Community Action separates with county, gets farewell gift

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2001

To become more eligible for funding, Community Action will separate from Freeborn County government on July 1.

Thursday, June 28, 2001

To become more eligible for funding, Community Action will separate from Freeborn County government on July 1.

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County Commissioners voted unanimously to let the department separate from the county government at their regular meeting Tuesday. They also voted to give the agency a one-time cash gift of $2,500 to help them get started on their own.

By becoming an independent non-profit organization, Community Action will be better able to compete with other programs for housing and self-sufficiency grants, said director Collette Turcotte. Its affiliation with the county has made Community Action ineligible for many funding sources.

&uot;They went on their own for one reason, and that’s to get more money than the county gives them,&uot; said board Chairman Dave Mullenbach.

While the county board has not funded Community Action programs, they have given the agency support in insurance, negotiations, and other services, Turcotte said.

&uot;The county has been really helpful,&uot; she said. &uot;You don’t realize what’s behind the scenes until you have to do it.&uot;

Community Action has been working toward nonprofit status for months, and has already been able to reap benefits of the separation.

&uot;Things are going well already. I just got $1,025 on the phone,&uot; Turcotte said.

Several private donations have come in recently, and Community Action has forged a partnership with Living Word Christian church to establish new homeless shelters in Albert Lea, Turcotte said. One new shelter will open this Sunday; another is slated to open July 15.

&uot;It’s a big learning curve, but I think we’re ready to cut our first checks the second week in July,&uot; Turcotte said.

Interim County Administrator Darryl Meyer asked the county board to grant a subsidy to assist the agency in their transition over the next several months. Community Action was a great help to the Department of Human Services during its 17 years as a county department, he said.

&uot;They have some grant monies that are available, but they don’t have the funds available to buy a car,&uot; he said.

The board voted unanimously to grant the money; Commissioner Dan Springborg was absent.

&uot;If Darryl feels this is something, I’m sure he’s researched it and he wouldn’t be asking for it if it wasn’t necessary,&uot; said Commissioner Glen Mathiason.

Community Action’s mission is to move families away from poverty, Turcotte said. The agency offers more than 20 programs to help families find shelter, establish household budgets, find jobs and with emergency assistance, and help them become self-sufficient.

Statewide, Olmsted is the only other county with a county-operated community-action program.