OCAP: Grant will change lives

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2001

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The Organized Community Action Program will spend the money it

just received from Gov. Siegelman on its people.

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The grant, which awarded OCAP $110,357, was just one of the 23 the governor distributed to the state’s Community Action Agencies to assist low-income residents, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

"Low-income citizens, the elderly and persons with disabilities need assistance to overcome the burdens of poverty," Siegelman said. "Helping people with the basic essentials of housing, education and healthcare is the mission of Alabama’s 23 community action organizations. I am pleased to make these funds available for the continuation of their various programs."

OCAP’s mission is to do just that. They "help people help themselves."

"Our mission is to help people change their lives," said Mary Terry, executive director of the program.

According to Terry, OCAP seeks solutions to the social and economic problems related to poverty.

"We know our agency is much more than a variety of programs to assist the poor. It is a group of people committed to a more just society and to a drive to insure a life of decency and dignity for all regardless of income and social status," Terry said.

Close to the heart of OCAP, the words of Herman Melville become sacred.

"We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results," Melville is quoted in the OCAP pamphlet.

The organization serves eight counties and helps those qualified through its Head Start program for children, the weatherization program, and the energy, food, and shelter program with the help of the United Way, to name a few.

OCAP wrote a proposal for the grant explaining its needs and goals in order to serve people in the area.

"If you don’t write a proposal, you don’t get a grant," Terry said.

A total of $1.9 million was awarded to the various programs from the governor.

The grants were made possible through funds made available to the state through the Community Service Block Grant of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.