Western Charles County Community Association, Inc.
School supplies and building supplies, food and fuel, painting and prescriptions. These were among numerous areas of activity that benefitted hundreds of people due to the work of the volunteer members of the Western Charles County Community Association, Inc. during 2014.
In addition to its day-to-day operations, a guiding principle of WCCCA continued to be helping individuals and families that fall through the cracks in terms of getting the support they require from available sources. Because of its high visibility in the community and its record of accomplishments stretching back 15 years, WCCCA often is called upon by both government agencies and other non-government organizations to provide assistance to people in need that those groups cannot, or for some reason do not, provide.
At the same time, WCCCA takes steps to educate, empower and energize the clients it serves so they have the tools and will they need in order to act to improve their own lives.
Most requests for support come from, and for, people who live in Western Charles County, the primary area in which WCCCA is active. In addition, the Association also receives occasional cries for help from residents of other areas of Charles County. While those who reside in the Western area of the county are WCCCA's top priority, the organization does its best not to turn down any requests for assistance. At the very least, it directs people to other sources of possible aid and if they need transportation, help filling out paperwork or other assistance in order to access available services, WCCCA does what it can to provide what is required.
In addition to the combination of continuing and expanding its own programs, working on cooperative projects with other organizations and providing assistance to individuals and families referred to WCCCA for help, another focus of the Association's activities during 2014 was stretching its available funds as far as possible in order to help as many people as it could. At the end of the year, WCCCA engaged the services of a professional grant writer and launched a concerted effort to both find new sources of funding and seek increased financial support from foundations, businesses, individuals and others in the community that have made donations in the past.
Working together. Cooperating with a variety of other organizations enabled WCCCA throughput 2014 to extend both the use of its available funds and its outreach. Some activities involved several groups working in a joint venture, while others were requests from other entities to WCCCA to provide direct assistance to people.
For example, WCCCA obtained and delivered toys requested by the Gail Bailey Elementery School for its Christmas giveaway, the toy drive at the Nanjemoy Community Center (including a number of large toys and bicycles) and Brawner’s Head Start center for children from low-income families in Indian Head. It also donated supplies for the Community Center’s Back-to-School project and worked with Grace Lutheran Church to provide Christmas dinners and gifts for elementary school children.
Each week, a WCCCA volunteer provides transportation for residents of the Jude House in Bel Alton, MD which offers comprehensive live-in and outpatient services to people fighting chemical dependency. They get round-trip transportation to Grace Lutheran Church where they participate in the spiritual part of their recovery program.
Among other organizations with which WCCCA had cooperative activities during 2014 were the American Camp Association, Charles County Department of Community Service, Charles County Public schools, Charles County Sheriff's Office, Health Partners, Inc., Homeless Resource Day, Kiwanis, Life Builders Church, Lifestyles of Maryland, Lions Club, Lutheran Mission Society, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Potomac River Baptist Church and Southern Maryland Women's League.
Kids camp and more. Children continued to be a primary target of WCCCA's efforts. The high percentage of youngsters who receive free or reduced-price school meals is but one indication of the large number who come from families that live below the poverty level. The Association seeks to balance activities for young people among those that teach, challenge and uplift, others which are just plain fun and provide a break from the challenges of their everyday lives, and some that combine those goals.
Among these activities during 2014: Taking four dozen people, most of them children, to Westmore Park, Virginia for the July 4th fireworks display. Driving 70 youngsters and 10 adult chaperones during August to Virginia’s Bull Run Regional Park, which has hiking trails, a swimming pool and other recreational facilities. Transporting close to two dozen people, mostly children, to the Washington Zoo to see the animals and Christmas lights.
The most ambitious annual project for children is sending several dozen youngsters to a week of overnight summer camp. In 2014, as during previous years, WCCCA worked with Lions Camp Merrick which -- in addition to the use of its facilities -- provided a discounted fee, the services of counselors and other support.
During 2014, 40 boys and girls ages 9-12 were selected by the principals of the Gail Bailey, Indian Head, Mt. Hope and J.C. Parks elementary schools to take part in this program. They were chosen because they came from some of the lowest-income families in the area, and also because they were deemed to be most likely to have lasting benefit from the experience. Each year, family members and teachers report noticeable improvements among many of these children in terms of enhanced self-esteem, the ability to work cooperatively with others and greater focus upon academic achievements.
Months of preparation are required for this event. That includes seeking cash donations and purchasing all necessary clothing and equipment to meet the camp needs of each child. Funds for this activity come from several sources, including contributions, people who "adopt" a child and donate the amount of money required to pay for camp and the purchase of clothing and equipment, and support from the American Camp Association. A large contribution was made during 2014 for this project by Maryland State Senator Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton.
Senior services. WCCCA also is very active assisting those at the higher end of the age spectrum. This is done both by providing some of its multi-generational services -- like housing repairs, transportation and help filing for various types of government programs -- to older clients and also through activities geared specifically to them.
Given the limited public transportation that is available in Western Charles County, taking elderly people to a variety of places they need to go is an important element of what WCCCA does. Just one example: Most weeks throughout the year, a WCCCA volunteer picks up a total of about 15-20 residents, most of them elderly, at designated stops and drives them to the food bank at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, then returns them to a point near their home.
Help for Housing. WCCCA has an on-going program of making badly needed repairs and required upgrades to houses and trailers. One example of the latter is building a ramp at a trailer whose elderly occupant is confined to a wheelchair and in the past required assistance getting in and out of his residence.
Repairs, which range from large to small, deal with problems that make living spaces uncomfortable at best and virtually uninhabitable at worst. They range from patching a leaking roof and replacing a deteriorated floor which has large holes in it to installing windows that leak air and cabinets in a kitchen that have none.
The Association's Housing Committee reviews requests for this kind of help and prioritizes them based upon degree of need; whether occupants include elderly, very young or health-challenged people, and other factors. During 2014, WCCCA was fortunate to receive its third $5,000 grant from the Pettit Family Charitable Foundation, which is funded by a well-established company in Gaithersburg, Maryland that is in the housing construction and management business, for use in making repairs.
Food, fuel, etc. In addition to providing transportation to people that enables them to obtain items distributed by various sources, WCCCA also distributes things directly to clients. For example, the Association annually hands out holiday baskets containing complete meals, using the Charity Tracker computer software to verify that they go to families and individuals with the greatest need. Each winter it gives away 100 warm coats and jackets which are donated by the Clothing Recycling Company, headquartered in Springfield, VA. It provides pre-paid vouchers good for the purchase of fuel oil and kerosene that a number of people use for home heating, with any leftover funds which are not required for that purpose available to buy food and other necessities. And WCCCA distributes passes for the VanGo bus services which serves Western Charles County.
Community services center. The building that serves as WCCCA's office and meeting place also is used to provide a number of services to individuals and organizations. It has storage space for donated items until they can be distributed to their intended recipients. During 2014, it was used by certified "Navigators" who assisted people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, WCCCA volunteers meet with area residents there and use its computer and other facilities to help them apply for a variety of assistance including Social Security, disability and food assistance benefits; write resumes, fill out job applications, etc. The WCCCA building also is used to offer classes geared to the needs and interests of its target audiences, such as basic family finances.
Career starters. Each year, WCCCA funds Scholarships for Workforce Development Continuing Education courses at the College of Southern Maryland. These “Career Starter” classes help students achieve education and training that enable them to begin work careers, or obtain skills that permit them to advance in their field.
Electrciity, emergencies and elections. As already noted, a number of WCCCA's activities support its goal of providing help to individuals and families in need who for a variety of reasons don't receive it from other sources. Just a few examples provide an idea of the variety and extent of this type of assistance.
Families that face a cut-off of their electricity during frigid winter or hot summer months, and who lack funds to make a payment required to keep it on, receive short-term financial help. During summer heat waves, WCCCA distributes ice, water and other emergency supplies to people whose home is not air conditioned and/or lacks indoor plumbing, with a focus upon families that include elderly or very young members.
People impacted by a fire or other disaster that destroys or makes their house or trailer uninhabitable are provided with motel or other accommodations for several days, and with donated items to help them set up their household once they find another permanent place to live.
Several months before the November 2014 elections, WCCCA hosted a non-partisan forum for candidates which approximately 50 Charles County residents attended. Close to 40 candidates for offices including County Commissioner, state senator and delegate, school board member and various other local offices spoke and answered questions.
WCCCA presented its first annual Good Samaritan Award in 2014. It was established to give public recognition and thanks to a person, persons or an organization that provides extraordinary support and assistance which helps WCCCA to achieve its mission of aiding people in need in Western Charles County.
The first award went to Charles County Commissioner Debra Davis for her “unparalleled support to the citizens of Western Charles County.” Ms. Davis was recognized for her continuing efforts to make funds available for WCCCA’s activities as well as other forms of support for its programs. In accepting the honor, she said she considers the Association’s volunteer members to be “boots on the ground” in providing assistance to “people in need in the area.”
United Way. WCCCA retained its status during the year as a Partner Agency of United Way of Charles County. In order to do so, it continues to meet the standards which United Way requires of organizations which earn that designation.
Annual Report – 2013
During 2013, the Western Charles County Community Association, Inc. (WCCCA) continued to expand the scope of its activities to assist low-income residents of the area with a variety of basic human needs. At the same time, it
maintained its focus upon educating people to be in a better position to take
actions intended to help themselves, and energizing them to do so.
The increased recognition of WCCCA as a source of assistance to both families and
individuals, by government agencies and other non-government organizations
(NGOs) in the area, resulted in continued growth in the number and variety of
requests for help and cooperative activities. The use of WCCCA’s headquarters building in Indian Head, the first it has had since the Association was established in 2000, provided a venue for its monthly meetings, classes, special activities for its clients and the public at large, and storage of donated items to be distributed to people in need.
Among groups and activities with which the Association cooperated and/or participated in joint activities during the past year were the American Camp Association, Charles County Department of Community Services, Charles County Public Schools, Charles County Sheriff’s Office, Friendly Network Radio, Grace Lutheran Church, Health Partners, Inc., Homeless Resource Day, Kiwanis, Life Builders Church, Lifestyles of Maryland, Lions Club, Lutheran Mission Society, NAACP of Charles County, Nanjemoy
Community Center, Peace Lutheran Church, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist
Church, Potomac River Baptist Church, Southern Maryland Tri-County Community
Action Committee and the Southern Maryland Women’s League.
Among activities by WCCCA in various categories during 2013 were the following:
Provided school supplies to the Nanjemoy Community Center to be distributed to children. Gave Christmas toys and clothes to 75 families. Paid to send 46 children to a week of overnight camp at Camp Merrick, including providing all required clothing and equipment (the children received health and dental check-ups and any required follow-up treatment).
Distributed 200 winter coats and other clothing.
Helped people whose electricity was in danger of being cut off to pay their electric bill (including single mothers with young children, a 70-year-old grandmother, etc.)
Helped several individuals and families facing emergency situations. Just one
example: a family whose house was destroyed by fire.
Distributed vouchers that recipients used to purchase food at local
grocery stores. Distributed 250 turkey dinners (turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, yams and bottled water) at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Used the Charity Tracker program to avoid duplication and make sure that each individual/family received only one meal.
Provided food for
75 families to the food bank at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
Repaired 20 houses and trailers (new doors, windows, flooring, handicap
ramp, bathroom, etc.), in part with funds from a grant from the Pettit Family
Charitable Foundation of Gaithersburg, MD.
Continued to sponsor Career Starter scholarships at the College of
Southern Maryland, which fund classes for people seeking to learn a new
career. Seniors. Took a number of senior citizens on field trips.
WCCCA provided transportation to people to visit the Alton Dental
Clinic, keep doctor appointments, etc.
WCCCA was approved by United Way of Charles County to become a Partner
Agency for the 2014 fund drive.
WCCCA was one of several organizations selected to provide assistance
for this program, which is sponsored by the Commissioners of Charles
County. The goal is to help 10 very low-income families each year to move out of poverty on a permanent, self-sustainable basis, with a focus upon health, housing, education, employment and transportation.
Handed out 200 fuel vouchers for people to buy propane and heating oil;
10 Van-go bus vouchers to people who needed public transportation to get to
work, doctor appointments, etc. Gave an
air conditioner to a single mother with two young children who live in a
trailer. Donated furniture to five
Provided use of its headquarters building as a venue, and assistance, to ‘navigators” who helped people apply for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Helped people fill out and file paperwork for various kinds of assistance from a number of government agencies and non-profit organizations (one example: running water for a trailer home under the Charles County running water assistance program).
Annual Report – 2012
The Western Charles County Community Association, Inc., (WCCCA) made great strides during 2012 in terms of both the scope of activities in which it engaged and the number of individuals and families it assisted. The continuing weak economy and its impact upon lower-income residents of western Charles County, Maryland, provided both increased challenges to and opportunities for the organization.
WCCCA took several steps intended to help it meet the increased demand for assistance. It expanded outreach to other organizations and partnered with them in a growing number of projects. The Association applied for, and received, a generous grant from the Charles County Commissioners.
WCCCA awarded the first two scholarships in a program it established with the College of Southern Maryland.
Given the increased demand for its services and its growing visibility in the community, WCCCA received even more requests for cooperative efforts than in the past. Among organizations with which the Association has cooperated and/or undertaken joint activities are the American Camp Association, Charles County Public Schools, Charles County Sheriff’s Office, Friendly Network Radio, Grace Lutheran Church, Health Partners, Inc., Kiwanis, Life Builders Church, Lifestyles of Maryland, Lions Club, Lutheran Mission Society, NAACP of Charles County, Nanjemoy Community Center, Peace Lutheran Church, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Potomac River Baptist Church, Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Committee and the Southern Maryland Women’s League .
WCCCA competed with a number of charitable, educational and other organizations seeking grants from the Charles County Commissioners. It received $18,500, which was allocated to sending several dozen children to a week of overnight summer camp, repairs and upgrades to houses with the greatest need for them, and providing water to people without a well.
The new scholarship program is intended to help people take “Career Starter” courses at the University of Southern Maryland. The first two recipients, both of whom live in the Western Charles County area served by the Association, took classes in Certified Nursing and Health Care.
Specific activities during 2012 were provided in various categories:
Children. Paid to send 33 children ages 9 to 12 to a week of overnight camp at Lions Camp Merrick. This included providing all required clothing and equipment, and arranging for the youngsters to receive hearing, eye and dental checkups, and any necessary treatments.
Partnered with LifeStyles, Inc., to provide transportation to approximately 70 elementary school children for two months to and from Mount Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School for the summer school lunch program.
Furnished summer swimming pool passes to 60 children.
Provided a picnic lunch and transportation for over 70 children to the swimming pool at Lions Camp Merrick.
Paid for close to three dozen high school students to visit the University of Maryland ‘s Eastern Shore campus.
Delivered school supplies and backpacks that were distributed to approximately 200 children at the Nanjemoy Community Center.
Provided funding to send five children who are interested in the theater to attend a play in Washington, D.C.
Clothing. Handed out warm winter coats to more than 200 people.
Emergency Assistance. WCCCA stood ready at all times to assist individuals and families facing a variety of emergency situations. Examples of the kinds of help the organization provided include:
During summer heat spells, delivered drinking water and ice to approximately 100 people who lacked running water and/or electricity.
Gave air conditioners to two families without them during a summer heat spell.
Provided information and assistance dealing with Hurricane Sandy, which struck the area in October 2012, to approximately 200 people.
Coordinated with the 911 crisis network to have help dispatched to10 families that were not on the list to receive emergency assistance following a storm or other disaster.
Delivered generators to three families that lost power in their home.
Paid for the members of a family who were evicted from their house to stay in a motel for four nights, and helped them find alternative accommodations.
Holiday Activities. Provided Christmas meals and gifts to more than 60 families.
Cooperated with Grace Lutheran Church to distribute a holiday meal and Christmas gifts to approximately 800 people at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy, Gale Bailey and J.C. Parks elementary schools.
Distributed Christmas meals and gifts to 28 families at Indian Head Elementary School and 10 families at Brawners Day Care in Bryans Road.
Housing. Arranged temporary shelter for two families with children that required such assistance..
Provided a family whose home burned down with all furnishings, kitchen appliances, etc., required to move into a rented house.
At the home of a physically handicapped man constructed a ramp to the front door, installed hand rails in the bathroom and redid the plumbing to make it accessible.
Began a search for groups of houses/trailers that do not have running water and indoor plumbing, which are in close proximity to each other, and which could be served by installation of a single group well and septic system.
Transportation., Partnered with Life Builders Church to provide transportation to families in Nanjemoy to take part in a mentoring program.
Worked with LifeStyles, Inc. of Maryland to provide families in Nanjemoy with VanGo coupons for round-trip transportation to LaPlata and Waldorf as needed to keep doctor and other appointments, go shopping, etc.
Arranged other transportation for people who needed it to keep doctor appointments, visit social service agencies to apply for assistance, etc.
Miscellaneous. Provided more than 150 very low income individuals and families with vouchers to obtain heating fuel.
Began to compile a list of individuals and families in the WCCCA service area with specific needs, collated them to categorize the type(s) of assistance each requires, and instigated the process of prioritizing them.
Members of WCCCA met with representatives of the Charles County Commissioners and the Living Classrooms Foundation of Baltimore to discuss having a Living Classrooms presence in western Charles County. The Foundation works to strengthen communities and inspire young people living in high-risk environments to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training. Among its activities are community development, workforce preparation and life skills training.
Western Charles County Community Association, Inc.
Annual Report -- 2011
During 2011, the Western Charles County Community Association, Inc. (WCCCA) focused much of its attention and efforts on expanding the scope and reach of its services and activities to a growing number of individuals and families. The weak economy, and its impact upon lower-income residents of western Charles County, gave greater urgency to WCCCA’s programs than ever before. As one aspect of its increased outreach to those in need, WCCCA worked cooperatively with various other organizations
Early in the year, a $5,000 grant from the Pettit Family Charitable Foundation of Gaithersburg, Md., enabled WCCCA to provide repairs to several houses and trailers that were badly in need of them. Using other funds, WCCCA also installed wells, outdoor water lines and indoor plumbing, and electricity in houses and trailers which lacked those basic necessities, and which serve as home to approximately 75 people.
Another major undertaking, for the second straight year, was paying for 60 fourth and fifth grade children from very low income families – including several who were homeless – to attend a week of overnight camp at Lions Camp Merrick in Nanjemoy, Md. The boys and girls were provided with all needed clothing and equipment, and received dental, vision and hearing examinations, plus any follow-up health services that were required. In addition to the recreation this opportunity provided, teachers, parents and other adults reported observing lasting benefits for the children in terms of self confidence and self-esteem.
WCCCA also established a scholarship program to help people attend career development classes at the College of Southern Maryland. The Association provided $1,500 to get that program underway.
Among many other activities during 2011, WCCCA and its volunteer members:
Installed pellet stoves in several houses/trailers that had no source of heat.
Provided transportation to people who needed it to keep appointments with a doctor, government agency, NGO, etc.
Distributed food and food vouchers, and heating oil vouchers, to families that needed assistance paying for those essentials.
Assisted families facing emergency situations. For example, WCCCA came to the aid of one family whose trailer was destroyed by fire by providing temporary housing, and furniture, appliances, etc., to establish another household. WCCCA
also assisted families whose places of residence were damaged by a severe hurricane that hit the area on August 31.
Took many children on educational and recreational field trips.
Obtained and distributed items requested by people on a “Needs List.”
Attended and testified at meetings and hearings conducted by the Charles County commissioners and other government entities dealing with a variety of issues facing residents of the county.
Members of WCCCA also planned and worked with other groups that share common goals on various projects. Among organizations with which WCCCA cooperated on one or more projects during 2011 were the American Camp Association, AmeriCorps, Charles County Public Schools, Charles County Sheriff’s Office, Churches (Grace Lutheran Church, Potomac River Baptist Church, etc.), Friendly Network Radio, Health Partners, Inc., LifeStyles of Maryland, Lions Club, Lutherans Mission Society, NAACP of Charles County, Nanjemoy Community Center, Southern Maryland Women’s League and the Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Committee.
Among the activities conducted in conjunction with other groups were:
Planning and participating in Nanjemoy Day in November. At that event, a total of 250 turkey dinners and 200 winter coats and jackets were distributed, and participants had an opportunity to fill out forms requesting various kinds of assistance they needed.
Distributing toys and other treats to children for Christmas.
WCCCA looks ahead to continued expansion of its activities during 2012. The Association invites anyone interested in joining the organization, contributing to it or seeking more information to call (301) 375-7750 or log onto its website at westerncharlescountycommunityassociation.com.
Brenda L. Thomas