Community action expands transportation assistance
Program provides car repairs, seeks to start fixed routes
Geauga Community Action Inc. continues efforts to get people in need to work, medical appointments and more.
Staff also are trying to get the word out about the private, nonprofit agency’s services.
“We want to become a household name,” said Executive Director Bob Voss. “We’re the best-kept secret in Geauga County.”
GCA recently expanded its Transportation Assistance Program and continues to grow its Jumpstart Car Repair Program.
The Transportation Assistance Program provides gas cards or Geauga Transit passes for qualifying individuals. To receive services, families or individuals must be at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level or earn $1,300 per month or less individually.
“We are now partnering with local agencies to assist Geauga County residents with their transportation costs,” Voss said. “The need is great in Geauga County
for overall transportation assistance.”
GCA is also reaching out to Geauga businesses who have employees with transportation needs.
“We know how critical it is for both employers to have a reliable workforce as well as employees to have a steady paycheck,” he said, encouraging local business owners to call GCA to discuss their needs.
The Jumpstart Car Repair Program began about a year ago and has served more than 80 individuals, providing them with up to $1,000 in vehicle repairs.
“Our ultimate goal is to promote self-sufficiency,” Voss said. “These federal tax dollars are meant to be a onetime hand up, not an ongoing handout.”
GCA is funded through a Community Services Block Grant totaling more than $200,000 this year. A similar community action agency is Lifeline in Lake County.
The Geauga agency’s administrative expenses are capped at 6 percent, and a board determines how the grant money is to be used. This 15-member board is comprised of at least onethird
low-income community representatives, onethird public officials and onethird private-sector leaders, per a federal requirement.
“In order for GCA to grow these programs, we need our strategic partners to financially support us to leverage federal dollars to maximize our impact,” Voss said. He noted that the federal grant funding formulas are based on a county’s population and projection of county residents at or below the federal poverty level.
According to a recent needs assessment, transportation remains one of the top critical needs in Geauga County, he added.
GCA previously was under the umbrella of Geauga County Job & Family Services. Voss was hired to lead the offshoot agency in October 2015. He and GCA program manager Karen Demko are retired JFS employees.
This year, the agency seeks to offer fixed-route services.
“We want to establish a few key routes in the county that eligible individuals can rely on, on a weekly basis,” Voss said.
The Geauga Community Action office is located at 470 Center St. in Chardon, in Building 5D. For more information, call GCA to schedule an appointment at 440286-4765 or visit gcainc.org.
Geauga Community Action Executive Director Bob Voss and Program Manager Karen Demko review data at their office at 470 Center St., Chardon.