Volume 1, Issue 1                                                                                                February 2015
In This Issue
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MCA website
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Legislative Priorities
Member Services
MCA's Mission
To serve member agencies and strenghten their capacity to alleviate the causes and circumstances of poverty.
Upcoming Events
Feb. 7
Mount Pleasant
Walk for Warmth

Walk for Warmth

Walk for Warmth

For a complete list of upcoming events
click here.
Weatherization efforts generate savings, says MPSC study

     Weatherization efforts generate millions in long-term energy savings, according to a Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) study, which underscores the importance of funding MCA's programs to help consumers make their homes more energy efficient. 


     In 2013, $253 million spent on efficiency programs generated $948 million in savings, or $3 to $4 in savings for every $1 spent. 


     Last year, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the price of saving a kilowatt-hour through efficiency measures is less than half what it costs to generate one at a power plant. 


     "The dramatic success of these efficiency investments reflects a striking truth about the economics of energy in the 21st Century," says Casey Davis Van Atta of OPower, an electronic newsletter that covers the energy industry.  "Energy efficiency programs are a great way to increase customer engagement and provide an important service.  Many customers just aren't aware of how they use energy at home, what the 'right' amount of energy is, or what they can do to reduce their energy use - and ultimately their energy bills."

WAP celebrates 38th year of energy assistance

     MCA celebrated the 38th anniversary of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) on Oct. 30 as part of "Weatherization Day."  According to the Department of Energy, WAP has helped more than 6.4 million households become more energy efficient since its founding.  

NCAF hosts 
"Community Action's Got Talent" fundraiser
     As a fundraising effort for CAP-PAC, which helps ensure MCA influence on Capitol Hill, singers, comedians and dancers will perform at the National Community Action Foundation's (NCAF) "Community Action's Got Talent!" on March 25.  

     The talent show will feature musical and non-musical categories, with top prizes going to the winners in each category.  Each of the two categories will have an individual and an agency division.  The entry fees are $10 for individual and $25 for an agency team.

     To get involved, please contact info@ncaf.org or to register click here.
New funding approved by Gov. Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

      Michigan homes will become safer and more energy efficient thanks to legislation signed Jan. 10 by Gov. Rick Snyder that earmarks funding for weatherization.  The goal is to weatherize between 1,000 - 2,000 homes with these funds. 


      The new law requires, beginning with the current 2014-15 fiscal year, that the Michigan Weatherization Assistance Program administered by the Department of Human Services receives at least $5 million or $6 million annually from the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), depending on the amount of each year's LIHEAP appropriation from the federal government.  As part of the legislation, a new provision was added that rental homes weatherized with LIHEAP will require at least a 25% match or cost share by the property owner.


      "This is common-sense, cost-effective legislation that will benefit residents and communities throughout the state," says Kate White, executive director of Michigan Community Action, who testified before the Legislature in favor of the measure.  "The stabilization of weatherization funding will improve the lives of thousands of Michigan residents and help the agencies that perform weatherization upgrades to operate more efficiently."

Consumers Energy renews 
pledge to help MCA heat homes 
Consumers Energy will help at-risk customers pay their bills through the matching fund program.
     Income-eligible Consumer Energy customers across the state will receive energy assistance from a matching fund of $750,000 the corporation is pledging to Michigan Community Action for use throughout 2015. 


     Consumers Energy will provide $1 for every $2 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) use from beginning in January through Dec. 31, 2015, up to $750,000, to make partial payments for Consumers Energy customers. 


     "The partnership with Consumers Energy will benefit communities from Monroe to Traverse City and across the state," says Kate White, MCA executive director.  "Hundreds more people will have heat this year with the additional resources provided.  The money will significantly help MCA and its member agencies stretch other budgets and ensure that local families have heat in their homes." 


     Priority recipients are seniors 65 and older during the winter months, customers with multiple payment plan defaults and disconnected customers seeking restoration.  Customers must be determined income-eligible by the local agencies.  

Sault Ste. Marie walkers 
raise funds for families in need
Sault Ste. Marie community members walk to raise money for at-risk families.

    Braving the cold to help others stay warm, more than 200 Sault Ste. Marie community members took part in the annual Walk for Warmth event in December 2014.  Hosted by Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Community Action Agency (CLMCAA), the walk raised more than $7,000 to help pay for utility bills for low-income households.


     "The money raised at Walk for Warmth will help so many low-income families with their heating bills this year," says Ronald J. Calery, CLMCAA executive director. "The Sault Ste. Marie community steps up every year to assist those less fortunate."

Executive profile
SMCAA leader helps clients 
achieve self-sufficiency

Art Fenrick recalls the single mother's reaction when the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA) stepped in to help her better care for her youngest child with serious medical issues.  As SMCAA executive director since 1999, Fenrick has seen the organization help move countless residents of Cass, Van Buren and Berrien counties toward self-sufficiency. 


Art Fenrick

"She was in tears and gave me a bear hug," he says, recalling the gratitude of the mother of three who had been running back and forth to a laundromat every few days just to keep up with her young daughter's bedsheets -- all while juggling work, college classes and the care of two other children. 


When the woman sought assistance from SMCAA, Fenrick hit upon a possibility for greatly simplifying the woman's life.  He contacted the nearby Whirlpool Corp., which agreed to donate a washer and dryer to the family. 


"You'd have thought the mother had won the lottery," Fenrick says of her response when he and other community action workers delivered the appliances to the family's home.   "It was not difficult for us to do, but it had a huge impact on this family."


During his 15 years at SMCAA's helm, there's never been a shortage of residents requiring assistance - even if the faces and types of people seeking help change.  During the recent Great Recession, for example, many residents who had often served as volunteers or donors to nonprofit organizations were forced instead to turn to the same agencies for help.


The St. Joseph native grew up within SMCAA's service area.  After graduating from Anderson University in Indiana, where he studied to become a teacher, he joined the Air Force in 1969 and held a variety of posts throughout the United States and overseas before retiring in 1990.  Along the way, he learned to manage budgets and people.


After leaving the Air Force, he moved back home and within days was managing a homeless shelter in Benton Harbor.  He then spent two years as a district representative for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton before he was chosen to lead SMCAA.


"To be honest, I didn't know much about community action, as a lot of people probably don't," he says.  He quickly came to appreciate the agency's autonomy from Lansing and Washington, D.C., and its ability to craft programs that directly address community needs.