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The passage of the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964 and the establishment of the Office of Economic Opportunity (O.E.O.) were the initial factors that lead to the creation of this “Community Action” agency.

The first Board meeting took place on November 4, 1965 at Riverdale High School. Seated were 20 members, 10 from Hardin County, and 10 from Hancock County. Clyde Forry, Hardin Country, was the first Chairman. On Dec. 8, 1965, 10 Wyandot County members were seated. Incorporation papers were sent to Columbus, and on Dec. 21, 1965, we were incorporated as Hancock Hardin Wyandot Community Action Commission, Inc.

Putnam County representatives did not join until April 27, 1966. On August 24, 1966, the Agency was re-incorporated as Hancock Hardin Wyandot Putnam Community Action Commission, Inc. The first Executive Director was Robert Hamman and the first office was located in the Findlay Municipal Building.

During the first year of operation a great deal of time was spent canvassing the four- county area doing “needs assessments” of lower-income residents, and identifying the social services that were available. The information collected became the basis for a number of programs and services that were created by Congress (and implemented locally by the CAC) in the ensuing years. The first 25 years were focused on doing advocacy work to break down some social “barriers” that were preventing people from receiving needed services, and implementing new services that were not previously available. In some cases that involved actually creating new organizations to operate certain services, rather than keeping those services under the CAC. Some of those organizations are still thriving today, providing focused services to certain portions of our area’s residents.

The early 1990’s saw the CAC turn toward a more developmental focus, especially in the areas of housing, neighborhood revitalization, and small business development. Asset accumulation became a major issue for lower-income residents, and new programming was developed to address that need. We also turned to longer-term relationship, through case management, with our customers to try to enable families to make permanent changes in their lives.

Listed below, by year, are some of the major events in our Agency’s history.

1965: Incorporated as the Hancock Hardin Wyandot Community Action Commission, with offices located at the Findlay Municipal Building. First Board President – Clyde Forry.

1966: Re-incorporated as Hancock Hardin Wyandot Putnam Community Action Commission, when Putnam County joined in April. Hired first Executive Director – Robert Hamman, after receiving first Office of Economic Opportunity operating grant. County-wide surveying of needs and resources was initiated.

1967: Created the Kenton Neighborhood Opportunity Center on Robinson Avenue. Initiated Head Start and Migrant Day Care services in most areas, and a Youth Employment program. Ron Emptage hired as new Executive Director.

1968: Head Start begins in Wyandot County. Added the Findlay Neighborhood Center on Logan Avenue.

1969: Took over direct operation of Head Start in Hardin County (previously was delegated to school systems). Established central Head Start office in Arlington. Central CAC office moved to Trinity Episcopal Church temporarily, then to the Niles Building in Findlay. Frank Kelley hired as new Executive Director.

1970: Initiated Hancock County Child Day Care Center at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Findlay. Opened a Neighborhood Center in Leipsic. Initiated emergency food and medical financial assistance.

1971: Hancock Child Day Care moved to First Presbyterian Church in Findlay. Initiated community garden in Kenton. Loaned $3,500 to Kenton Jaycees to start Heritage Manor Apts. Helped create the Senior Citizens Center in Findlay.

1972: Loaned money to help create Senior Towers Apts. in Findlay. Central office moved to Clinton Court in Findlay.

1973: OEO funding was halted by President Nixon, causing staff to go 6 weeks without paychecks, and eventual shutdown of the CAC. Re-opened after 7 days when funding was resumed. (U.S. District Judge ruled OEO phase-out done illegally) Eye-screening clinic initiated at Kenton NOC. Assisted with development of affordable apartments in Glandorf area, which was frozen by Federal funding cuts. Initiated first Elderly Nutrition Project, with a meal-site at Findlay College. Initiated Adult Basic Education program in Kenton with local schools.

1974: CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) funding becomes available, CAC initiates adult and expands youth employment services. Initiated Elderly Nutrition meal-sites at Ohio Northern University and in Ottawa. Created a Family Planning Clinic in Findlay. Initiated home “winterization” program in Kenton, later expanded to all counties, and a Home Assistance Program for in-home chore services for elderly. First Head Start Policy Council formed.

1975: Initiated a Summer Youth Recreation Program.

1976: Initiated a Senior Transportation Program in Hardin County. Winterization program expanded to include utility shut-off prevention payments, as well as blankets and winter clothing, and included Van Wert County for one year. Due to reduced federal funding, the Findlay Neighborhood Opportunity Center is closed, and the Kenton NOC is transferred to the existing Advisory Council, which will become a Governing Board.

1977: Initiated a Family Planning Clinic in Kenton. Elderly Nutrition Programs transferred to PSA 3, Agency on Aging in Lima. Emma Molina, our Minority Affairs Director, participated in a round table discussion in Detroit with President Carter, which focused on the needs of low-income residents.

1978: CAC staff utilized donated Army vehicles to help with search and rescue efforts during the January blizzard. Operated Summer Feeding Program for children in Findlay. Initiated Senior Transportation services in Hancock County. Transferred Migrant Day Care services to the Texas Migrant Council. A CETA project included the clean-up of the Blanchard River using the George Palmiter river restoration method, which resulted in Mr. Palmiter receiving the national Rockefeller Public Service Award upon nomination by the CAC.

1979: Initiated a Women, Infants, and Children Clinic in Kenton. Initiated a Community Food and Nutrition Program.

1980: A new CAC central office built on Clinton Court. Initiated Summer Feeding Programs for youth in Kenton and Findlay. Constructed a solar greenhouse for a customer in Mt. Blanchard, to supplement heating systems. Transferred Home Assistance Program to Hardin County Council on Aging.

1981: Initiated a Women, Infants, and Children Clinic in Findlay. Provided seed money to start a domestic violence shelter in Findlay, and a tenant’s union in Hardin County. CAC central office closed for 3 days due to Blanchard River flooding which entered the lower level of the building. Initiated a food co-op in Putnam County. Promoted Dennis LaRocco to Executive Director.

1982: Initiated USDA surplus food commodity distributions. Transferred Summer Feeding Program to Park District.

1983: A CETA Job Club program was initiated. CETA was replaced on Oct. 1 by the JTPA (Jobs Training Partnership Act) at the federal level, and local Private Industry Councils were formed to administer funds locally (our four counties were divided into three different service areas, and overall funding and programs were reduced). Raised money by coordinating the purchase and selling of silicone caulking and other weatherization materials to other participating CAC’s around Ohio. Initiated an Emergency Food and Shelter Program which distributed food vouchers and rent assistance.

1984: Family Planning Clinics transferred to other agencies to operate. In Ohio, Community Action agencies are designated by the legislature to be the recipients of federal Community Services Block Grant funds. Began conducting Home Energy Audits, funded by Columbia Gas.

1985: Transportation for the handicapped begins with funding by the Society for the Handicapped in Hancock Co. Began serving as the Fair Housing Board for Hancock County. Began a soup kitchen in Findlay for the poor. CAC receives a donated house from Diamond Savings and Loan in Findlay, to be rehabbed and rented to L-I families.

1986: Took over operation of the Putnam Co. WIC clinic from Community Health Services. Began Project Rehab, a housing rehabilitation/resale program in Findlay, with State funding personally presented at the CAC by Governor Celeste. Began a Child Assault Prevention Program. Expanded our home weatherization program using Columbia Gas and Exxon funding. Food commodity distributions are transferred to the Salvation Army in Findlay.

1987: Findlay High School/Millstream Cooperative creates housing rehabilitation class to provide labor for Project Rehab. Began providing Fair Housing services in Wyandot County.

1988: Completed a detailed study of the Clinton Court neighborhood for a possible neighborhood revitalization project. CAC operates a youth soccer tournament to raise money for Senior Transportation in Hancock County. Distributed emergency vouchers for food and car repairs to migrants.

1989: The CAC purchases the central office building on Clinton Court from the landlord on Jan. 3rd. CAC begins a Clinton Court Neighborhood Redevelopment project, which involves forming a resident association, obtaining resources to renovate houses, demolish dilapidated structures, make alley/drainage improvements, do landscaping work, make improvements to Civitan Park, have neighborhood “clean-up” days, and start a Block Watch program.

1990: Expanded our Project Rehab housing rehabilitation program to do more houses in Findlay, and include full lead abatement activities. The CAC bought a dilapidated house on Clinton Court and donated it to the City to be cleared for a new entrance/parking lot for Civitan Park. CAC takes over sole operation of the Hancock County Community Day Care Center from the HCCDC Board.

1991: Expanded central office by adding a second floor over the warehouse. Expanded HEAP and Home Weatherization services to Allen County, when that local agency closed. Began sponsoring public seminars on banking services in conjunction with area financial institutions.

1992: Re-instituted a Summer Feeding Program in Findlay for low-income youth. Began offering banking services at the CAC, in collaboration with area financial institutions. First Agency-wide, single audit conducted by independent auditing firm.

1993: Constructed our first LIHTC (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit) housing project, called Glenwood Village Apartments in Findlay.

1994: Became designated as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) and eligible to receive State funding to develop housing.

1995: Initiated the Microenterprise Development Program that provides training, support, and access to start-up capital to qualifying persons interested in starting their own business. Conducted our first village income survey, for Vanlue. Initiated contract with the Wyandot Board of MRDD to own and manage two residences for their participants in Upper Sandusky. Initiated another LIHTC affordable housing project, called Highland Village Apts., in Upper Sandusky. Assisted in developing a Family Resource Center in Upper Sandusky. Purchased an XRF Analyzer and conducted full lead inspections of homes to be weatherized. Assisted the Hancock County Corporation for Independent Living (HCCIL) in purchasing and renovating a duplex in Findlay, to provide affordable, handicap-accessible housing. First Summer HEAP program initiated, due to extreme heat.

1996: Purchased the Parkview Church of Christ facility on Winfield Street in Findlay, to combine all of our eight existing Head Start classrooms in Findlay into this facility, and house our Senior Transportation program. Initiated a Hancock County Transportation Collaborative, which laid the groundwork for the CAC to start a Coordinated Transportation Program in 1997 called HATS (Hancock Area Transportation Services).

1997: Initiated the development of LIHTC housing projects in Findlay (Breckenridge Apts.), Kenton (Eagle Point Apts.), and Upper Sandusky (Highland Village II), in addition to projects in Napoleon and Delphos. Started the TEE (Targeted Energy Efficiency) home weatherization service, funded by American Electric Power. Conducted village income surveys for Jenera and Rawson.

1998: Initiated the development of a LIHTC housing project in Lima called Brower Commons Apartments. Initiated the development of a 10-house, single-family affordable housing construction project in Krystal Ridge in Findlay (constructed in 1999). Received our first allotment of Homelessness Prevention funding from ODOD, for rent vouchers.

1999: Initiated the Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program. The HATS Coordinated Transportation system evolved into a Rural Transit system, open to the general public with a 24-hour notice and with low fares. CAC installs an Agency-wide computer network. Initiated the development of four handicap-accessible duplexes in Findlay, using HUD Section 811 and ODOD funding (construction completed in 2001).

2000: Our Intake/Outreach services changed their focus to a longer-term case management approach, and became known as the Brighter Hope program. Initiated two LIHTC affordable housing projects, in Ottawa (Wellington Place Apts.) and Upper Sandusky (Nantucket Greene Apts.). Obtained funding to create a new dental clinic in Findlay, later turned over to the Dental Center of NW Ohio to operate. CAC central office suffered a major fire, destroying part of the Finance Dept., and required complete restoration in 2000. Offices were temporarily moved across the street to a vacant factory during the restoration. Conducted village income surveys for Mt. Cory and Vanlue.

2001: Initiated a LIHTC affordable housing project for the elderly in Upper Sandusky (Essex Place). Conducted village income survey for McComb.

2002: Satellite Community Services offices are opened in Kenton, Upper Sandusky, and Ottawa. Initiated a LIHTC affordable housing project in Carey, involving the remodeling of the Westown Manor Apts. (now called Meadow Glen). Head Start field staff join the Ohio Association of Public School Employees union.

2003: Our IDA (Individual Development Accounts) program won 1st place in the annual Best Practices Award from OSU’s John Glen Institute for public Policy and Public Services, and our accessible housing project at Krystal Ridge received Honorable Mention. Initiated a LIHTC affordable housing project involving single-family homes in Lima (New Lima Homes). Conducted village income survey for Wharton.

2004: Purchased a store in Upper Sandusky for possible Head Start and Community Services space. Conducted village income surveys for Columbus Grove and Patterson.

2005: Leased and then purchased a day care center in Ottawa for possible Head Start, WIC, and Community Services space, but leased it temporarily to the Texas Migrant Council for summer day care services. Conducted village income surveys for Arcadia, Arlington, Benton Ridge and McComb.

2006: Conducted village income surveys for Nevada and Sycamore. Hancock WIC Clinic moved to the new Family Center on N. Blanchard St. in Findlay. HATS office moved from the basement at the Winfield Child Development Center to the previous WIC office at 440 Scott St., Findlay. Implemented a VIP (Vehicle Improvement  Program) with funds from Ohio and Hancock JFS, which enabled participants to receive a 2:1 match on savings used to buy a used car for employment purposes.

2007:  The Blanchard River flooded in August, pushing two feet of river through the first floor of our administrative building on Clinton Court. Total renovation of the first floor was completed in November. Separately, we also renovated  the two CAC-owned properties in Ottawa and Upper Sandusky to house our Head Start classrooms/offices, our WIC Clinic (Ottawa only), and our Community Services office. Completed renovations to the old Westtown Manor Apartments in Carey, now called Meadow Glen Apartments, through tax credit financing.

2008:  Once again, the Blanchard Rivwer flooded in February, but stopped 1/2 inch short of entering our building! We initiated construction of a new Hardin CAC facility on Kohler Street in Kenton, that would house our Head Start classrooms and offices, our WIC Clinic, and our Community Services office. Completion is expected in mid-2009. In April, we initiated a new service called the Ohio Benefit Bank. This service helps residents enter information into a State-wide database that helps determine if they are eligible for a variety of services and programs. We also help residents file income taxes if they qualify for the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit). Also in 2008 we began construction of 36 single-family homes in Rawson, called Forest Edge, which will be leased to eligible families  through a 15-year lease/purchase program. Completion is expected in mid-2009.

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