Community Action Council toughs it out

January 29, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Community Action Council had a rough year in 1996.

Fortunately, for people like Patrick and Tracy Fazenbaker, the 30-year-old agency made it through.

"We were served by CAC, to get us over a temporary hurdle," Tracy Fazenbaker said as she addressed participants in the agency's annual open house Tuesday.

She said that when her husband's disability allowance was yanked because he needed emergency surgery, their family of six was unable to make ends meet on the salary from her part-time job.


"CAC helped us with our electric bills and fuel oil," Tracy Fazenbaker said. "We didn't like having to ask for help, but it meant a lot to us."

She said the family isn't out of the woods yet, but the breathing room afforded by CAC's help made a big difference.

CAC Executive Director Cheryl Walkley said she was glad the agency was able to help the Fazenbakers and thousands of others in 1996.

"We couldn't have done it without the Washington County Commissioners," Walkley said. She said the commissioners came up with $25,000 in direct benefit funds in December.

When the funding for Transitional House was cut, CAC staff found $43,000 from the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust.

During that crisis, new funding was found to create the Service Linked Housing Component, which offered services to 25 families, Walkley said.

The weatherization program took a big hit, with funds dropping from $200,000 to $40,000 in 1996. Walkley said the decision was made to become an intake agency and let others provide the work.

When the county cut its annual grant by $40,000, Walkley said the decision was made to absorb the shortfall administratively so services to people could be maintained.

The shutdown of emergency services provided through the Department of Social Services hit hard, but CAC gained a part-time emergency services worker to help with the additional families in crisis.

CAC in 1996 took on administration of county homeless program grants and the rental allowance program.

The organization recently received $15,000 from the Washington County Gaming Commission, Walkley said.

An additional $4,000 grant from the Fletcher Foundation for direct aid to families is nearly gone, but programs are continuing, Walkley said.

Susan Appleton, CAC's aftercare case manager, said she has been impressed with the high quality of service that she has seen in her two years with the agency.

"A vital factor is how people are treated here at CAC, with empathy and dignity," Appleton said.

Now housed at 101 Summit Ave., CAC must find new quarters.

"We are actively looking for a new location," Walkley said.

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