Com­mu­nity ac­tion ex­pands trans­porta­tion as­sis­tance

Pro­gram pro­vides car re­pairs, seeks to start fixed routes

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Betsy Scott [email protected]­ald.com @Re­porterBetsy on Twit­ter

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.

SUB­MIT­TED

Geauga Com­mu­nity Ac­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Bob Voss and Pro­gram Man­ager Karen Demko re­view data at their of­fice at 470 Cen­ter St., Chardon.

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