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Mayor’s Day Recognition – April 3rd

From L to R – Paul Rich (OCDCA), Caroline Keyes (Rural Action), Catilin Bond (Rural Action), Katie Conlon (Community Food Initiatives), Raina Schoonover (Community Food Initiatives)

A Mayor’ Day Recognition event was held in Athens on Tuesday, April 3.

The event was put together to celebrate those who have chosen to dedicate their time and efforts to national service through the various branches of AmeriCorps, as well as other community service organizations.

In attendance were some 60 service members and local government officials, as well as representatives from the Corporation for National and Community Service, Senate and House offices, and Governor Kasich’s office.

The event started with a service portion, making seed pods for use in local gardening efforts, and then proceeded to a panel made up of service members.

On the panel was OCDCA’s own Katie Conlon, a VISTA serving at Community Food Initiatives! Katie and the other panelists spoke about how service has changed and deepened their relationships to the community and their careers in general.

We were very proud to see a member of the OCDCA VISTA project speak so highly about the impact of service, and we had fun celebrating national service with all the service members down in Athens!


CDC Impact: Community Engagement

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

This week’s theme is community engagement – a deeply critical component to all community development work. The central idea to the CDC industry is that local communities know their people and places the best and are best suited to enact change to their specific challenges.

Through local engagement, residents can take ownership of their community and are empowered to make lasting changes through grass roots efforts.  

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Hosted community events that were attended by over 159,000 people;
  • Recruited almost 37,000 volunteers of which nearly 6,500 were youth;
  • Organized volunteers that performed more than 559,000 hours of service in their communities.

For example, one CDC in northeast Ohio holds an annual day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in 2016, countless volunteers helped board up 20 vacant homes in single degree temperatures.

Another community development group in southeast Ohio mobilized many residents to help bring a grocery store to their rural food desert.

Community engagement is inherent in community development work, as CDCs make a place at the proverbial table for all the voices in their community.


RFP Open: AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate

Jump-start your summer with a VISTA Associate

The AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program is a 10 week initiative that offers organizations the opportunity to engage individuals in their community and get help enhancing existing programs.

The OCDCA AmeriCorps Summer VISTA RFP, which is separate from the year-long VISTA RFP, is now available.

Applications are due by February 9, 2018.

Funding for the OCDCA VISTA Project is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Limited slots are available; therefore, this is a competitive process.

This will be your only opportunity in 2018 to apply for OCDCA VISTA Summer support.

For questions or technical assistance, please contact Alana Perez at aperez AT or by phone at 614-461-6392 ext. 204.

Join us next week for a webinar that will provide an overview of the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program.

What Is The OCDCA VISTA Summer Associate? / January 31, 2018 / 10:00 – 11:00 AM


ICYMI: AmeriCorps VISTA year-long sub-site RFP available

RFP Opportunity Details

OCDCA welcomes current, good standing members to submit an application to become a sub-site to the OCDCA VISTA Project to begin summer 2018.

Funding for the OCDCA VISTA Project is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI), and the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) through the Ohio Housing Trust Fund (OHTF). Limited slots are available; therefore, this is a competitive process and some slots will be reserved for housing-only and rural-only initiatives.

This will be your only opportunity in 2018 to apply for OCDCA VISTA support.

If your organization is interested in becoming a sub-site of the OCDCA VISTA Project, please complete the RFP by 5 PM January 19, 2017.

Applying organizations must be members of OCDCA, and the membership process is easy. Brand new members may receive 50% off their dues by using code NMVISTA at checkout.

For questions or technical assistance, please contact Melissa Miller at or by phone at 614-461-6392 ext. 209.

Need TA on the Application?

AmeriCorps VISTA RFP TA Webinar   /   January 16, 2018   /   2:00 – 3:30 PM   /   Register Here!

This webinar will go through common errors in applications and what makes a great application. This is a great time to get all your RFP questions answered.


People Working Cooperatively “Ramp it Up for Veterans” WCPO telethon raises $50,000 for veterans

Last week, Cincinnati-OCDCA member People Working Cooperatively, in partnership with WCPO conducted a telethon to raise funds to aid disabled and low-income elderly veterans with critical home repairs. In a four hour time span, the telethon raised over $50,000.

“The impact will be huge for these hometown heroes who are waiting for emergency home repairs, home modifications and more.”

Get the whole story here.


Yardwork volunteers provide valuable help to seniors

Jim Weiker of The Columbus Dispatch:

Photo by krosseel at

Yardwork doesn’t come as easily as it once did for Donda Stevenson. Two knee surgeries and consistent back pain make it hard for the 71-year-old Hilltop resident to get around.

So Stevenson was glad to welcome a crew from the nonprofit agency Homes on the Hill to rake, trim, weed and clean the gutters at her home.

“When I moved here in 1995, I did all this work,” Stevenson said as she watched volunteers tidy her lawn recently. “But there’s no way in the world I could have done this now.”

Homes on the Hill is among a handful of central Ohio organizations that help seniors and the disabled keep their yards looking good when the leaves start falling.

Read the whole story about this important work that at least two Central Ohio OCDCA members engage in – Homes on the Hill and Rebuilding Together Central Ohio.


Vinton County edges closer to grocery store opening

Susan Tebben of WOUB:

“Vinton County has fought the designation of “food desert” for four years, and finally this year, they are seeing the results of the fight to bring fresh food to the county.

Campbell’s Market is still under construction, but owner Rick Campbell is hoping to open the doors and hold a grand opening in the coming weeks.

Parking lots are currently being paved and utilities are being installed, making way for shelving units to go in the store, according to Campbell.

A groundbreaking was held in March, with county and state officials in town for the event.

The 12,000 sq. ft. Campbell’s Market of McArthur will bring fresh produce and meats to the area for the first time since 2013.

Since the SuperValu closed that year, the county came close to having grocery services a few different times. The Dollar General corporation floated the idea of a Dollar General Market, an expanded version of the store that includes groceries, but the idea never came to fruition. A meat market was also on the way to opening, but certification and regulation problems brought that project to a halt, according to reports by the Vinton County Courier.

Vinton County Senior Citizens Executive Director Rhoda Toon-Price said just in 2016, volunteers have traveled 150,000 miles, just to take senior citizens to adjacent counties to go grocery shopping.

“Because a lot of them can’t drive long distances,” Toon-Price said. “So having this new grocery store is going to give some of them back their independence, and that’s really important to us.”

The new store is a project the family owners say wouldn’t have happened without the help of a state agency’s funding.

Grants and loans totaling $1.6 million were brought in through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which works with the Finance Fund Corporation.”

Read the whole story here, which talks more about the intiative from OCDCA partner Finance Fund, and the incredible work of OCDCA member, Vinton County Economic Development Board.



Farewell and Thank You, VISTAs!

Today is the day. After dedicating a year or more of service in an effort to alleviate poverty and build capacity at community development organizations throughout Ohio, many of the Ohio CDC Association AmeriCorps VISTA members are now concluding their service.

Our VISTA Members have made significant contributions to their communities, and while these contributions cannot be simply reduced to numbers, there are many impressive quantitative measures that deserve highlighting. Over the last year, our VISTA Members have:

  • Recruited more than 900 community volunteers, who completed over 2,000 hours of volunteer service.
  • Organized or attended over 250 community events to support their organization’s services.
  • Raised over $700,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.

These measures are only a sample of the concrete efforts that our VISTA Members have made during their service year. As many of our VISTA Members head to school to complete advanced degrees or continue with their careers in community development, we have no doubt that they will continue to make a difference in their communities.

Some of our VISTAs were even hired on as full-time staff members at their site locations. These include Beth Combs at Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families (SELF) in Hamilton, Liz Weiler at Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization in Cleveland, and Lindsay Wheeler at Famicos Foundation in Cleveland.

In addition, several of our current VISTA Members are re-enrolling for another year of service. They includes Joe Linksy, currently serving at Slavic Village Development in Cleveland, Kristian Hunter at Collinwood Nottingham Villages in Cleveland, and Caitlin Joseph at East Akron Neighborhood Development.

OCDCA’s own VISTA, Patrick Creedon, will be leaving our office to serve as VISTA Leader at the Ohio Association of Free Clinics.

Wherever life takes the OCDCA 2016-2017 AmeriCorps VISTAs, we cannot say thank you enough. Thank you for your year of dedication, hard work, and commitment to your communities and your country.


What the U.S. Loses If Trump Eliminates AmeriCorps

We’ve been talking about AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National & Community Service for a while now. It clearly makes a huge impact, not just in Ohio, but to the country as a whole, as well as the individuals who volunteer their time to serve as an AmeriCorps member.

Still, it’s refreshing to hear others, especially CEOs of major corporations talking about its value. Read a sensible and smart piece in Fortune by Chris Policinski, David MacLennan, John Wiehoff, Doug Baker, all CEOs of major Minnesota-based companies.

A brief sample:

The administration’s perspective is clear and pointed. “Funding community service and subsidizing the operation of nonprofit organizations is outside the role of the Federal Government,” the budget states. “To the extent these activities have value, they should be supported by the nonprofit and private sectors and not with Federal subsidies provided through the complex Federal grant structure run by CNCS.”

As cost-conscious leaders of Fortune 500 companies, we have to disagree. We know a good deal when we see one, and the CNCS is a good deal. This is why we’ve donated to AmeriCorps programs such as College Possible.

While funding for the CNCS represents a fraction of federal spending (less than .02% in previous years), its demise would deeply harm hundreds of thousands of Americans.



PWC repair affair helps residents remain in their homes

WVXU and WMUB in Cincinnati recently included a conversation about OCDCA member, People Working Cooperatively, on Cincinnati Edition with Mark Heyne.

People Working Cooperatively (PWC) strengthens communities by providing professional, critical home repairs, weatherization, modifications, and maintenance services to help residents stay safely in their homes. The organization is holding its annual Repair Affair on Saturday, May 13. Projects to be completed that day may range in complexity from installing handrails and repairing drywall to fixing leaky plumbing and repairing steps. Last year during the event more than 400 volunteers donated more than 2,000 total hours to serve 60 homeowners.

As part of this year’s Repair Affair volunteers from The Home Depot will be assisting five Tri-State veterans on Thursday, May 11.”

Listen to the whole 23 minute segment here.