Community Action News
May 2021
The announcement by Governor Baker this week that state mandated COVID restrictions will soon be lifted and that our state’s rate of COVID infection and hospitalizations are decreasing is hopeful news. However, Worcester and Southern Worcester County communities, where WCAC serves and partners, still rank among the hardest hit by COVID. I and many throughout the area's non-profit sector continue to have significant concerns about equitable access to vaccines for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Latinx, Asian and immigrant communities. They are among the most disproportionally impacted by COVID, and yet, among those with lowest vaccination rates according to recent data from UMass Memorial Health Care. It is difficult to celebrate state’s reopening without acknowledging that we have more work to do before we can claim a win over COVID for all members of our community. WCAC is an active participant in efforts to coordinate outreach and education to support greater access to Worcester’s Equity Vaccine Clinics. Next Tuesday, May 25th, the City of Worcester and several partners will host such a clinic from 4:30-8 p.m at Polar Park. Designed to be family friendly (all those 12+ are now eligible for the vaccine) the event will feature local resources, special guests, music, food and prizes - and most importantly, the opportunity to get your shot! No registration is required. Please help us spread the word and encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to do their part in protecting themselves and our community.
This month we celebrate Community Action Month. Founded in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty, WCAC is one of 1,000 community action agencies across the U.S. and 23 in Massachusetts created to address disparities throughout the nation.  Our values of advancing equitable access, elevating all voices, and partnering with people are embedded in the role we play as the federally designated anti-poverty agency for Central and South-Central Massachusetts. As noted in the video below featuring members of WCAC's Board of Directors reaffirming The Promise of Community Action, we care about the entire community and are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other. Be sure to follow our social media channels for pictures and posts all month long celebrating our community impact!
Let's continue to work together, to take care of one another, and emerge stronger and united.

Marybeth Campbell, Executive Director

In the midst of a tax year with tax law changes, software updates, and COVID restrictions, WCAC's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program supported a record total of 815 clients! A special shout-out to our dynamo team of Tim, Maggie and Nicole (pictured here) as well as 30 volunteers including numerous student volunteers from Clark University, Quinsigamond Community College and the University of Massachusetts - we couldn't have done it without you!

While many VITA sites throughout the Commonwealth were forced to shut down due to the pandemic, WCAC's volunteers truly stepped up, serving clients in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Swahili, Polish, Albanian, Farsi and more. 17% of clients served by WCAC were 65 years of age or older; the youngest client was 16, the oldest 88 years old. The average refund for those receiving refunds was $2,450; and average Child Tax Credit for those receiving was $1,375.

In a year where filing became critically important in order to obtain federal stimulus payments the VITA program became a vital resource for many. Going forward the IRS and US Department of the Treasury have announced that the first mnthly payment of the expanded and newly advanceable Child Tax Credit from the American Rescue Plan will be made on July 15th. Roughly 39 million households covering 88% of children in the United Staes are slated to begin receiving monthly payments without any further action required.

WCAC is partnering with the Worcester Chamber, City of Worcester, MassHire, and United Way on a new Green Jobs Corps, which through the agency's YouthWorks program will be recruiting 25 youth to join five neighborhood-based teams focused on beautification projects across the entire city. The partnership leverages more than $30,000 towards the program in youth wages and staffing. The full plan also includes learning sessions and tours for the participating youth who will get exposure to different careers in the environmental field and will meet with local and regional business leaders in the energy and environmental sector.   

“This is a terrific example of what can be accomplished through partnerships,” said Department of Public Works commissioner Jay J. Fink. “In addition to having the obvious benefits of helping to keep Worcester clean, the Green Corps. creates opportunities for our youth.” According to Fink, the city plans to hire a full-time Worcester Green Corps. coordinator whose job it is to supervise year-round beautification efforts and oversee the five managers and 25 youth workers. In addition to providing the city’s Quality of Life team assistance with cleanup and beautification efforts, the city says the youth hires will learn about sustainability best practices, as well as education and employment opportunities.

WCAC Executive Director Marybeth Campbell, called the program a “quadruple win for the youth that we serve.”

“This is an opportunity for our young people to get exposure to jobs that [they] may not have even otherwise thought of,” said Campbell. “Recruiting kids is something that we do really well. And we’re looking at kids that are really interested in looking at green jobs.”

The 25 summer jobs for the youths will be 25 hours a week and pay minimum wage. Five managers will also be hired to oversee the five teams assigned to each district in the city.

As a provision of the American Rescue Plan, the monthly fruit & vegetable Cash Value Benefit for women and children over 1 year is going to temporarily increase from $11 to $35 starting in June. 
Click HERE to check eligibility and apply online. Having active SNAP, TAFDC, or certain Mass Health plans make an applicant automatically income eligible for WIC.  

WCAC is hiring!

Several opportunities now available within our Early Education & Care and Fuel Assistance/Energy programs, as well as our Job & Education Center.

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