On Tuesday morning, Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) hosted a press conference at the Friendship House Community Center in order to kick off May’s celebration of Community Action Month.
“Across the United States, Community Action Month is dedicated to the celebration of nearly six decades of work towards eliminating the causes and conditions of poverty,” said Jeremy Tobias, CEO of CAPK. “It isn’t easy work, we’re still doing it after 57 years, but the abject poverty that drove [President Lyndon Johnson] to declare war on the human suffering that he witnessed in the 1960s has been eliminated for many millions of people. Community Action Month is about helping the rest.”
In May 1965, the Community Action movement was brought to life and with it came the creation of CAPK. Since its development, the organization has implemented Friendship House and 16 other programs that provide direct services to people struggling at the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum.
Leaders from both CAPK and Friendship House gathered at the press conference to talk about what community action means and the different plans they have in story for this month.
Lois Hannible, Friendship House Community Center Manager, describes the center as a “jewel in the community.” Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Friendship House was able to remain open and continue to offer services to the community.
“When the students transitioned to distance learning, we provided distance learning here through our Learning Pod program,” Hannible stated. “We are now providing our afterschool program at no cost and we’re gearing up for our summer program which will also be provided at no cost.”
Both programs provide educational enrichment, recreational activities, and meals for the community’s youth. Youth will also have access to a mentor program where they can be matched with volunteer mentors. A MediCal application assistance program will also provide those interested MediCal information and support in filling out applications.
Outside of Friendship House, CAPK has many notable programs designed to assist the community. These programs include:
- Head Start and Early Head Start
- Home Visiting Program
- Homeless Services
- Coordinated Entry System (CES)
- Migrant Childcare
- Energy Weatherization & Utility Assistance
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
- East Kern and Oasis Family Resource Centers
- Food Bank
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Central Kitchen
- CalFresh Healthy Living
“People who use just one of our programs see an improvement in their life. Their children enter kindergarten ahead of their peers, not behind them; they learn to build healthy eating habits and their pantry is stocked with healthy food,” Tobias continued. “Each of those results can come from one of our programs, but CAPK runs 17 programs. Our message to our community is simple: help is here for you and you can use it.”
Tobias recommends those interested in more information call 2-1-1 or visit CAPK’s website.
“While our clients often use only one or two of those service – they’re most likely eligible for all of them,” James Burger, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator at CAPK, said.
Throughout his three decades as part of CAPK’s Board, President Fred Plan says that he has seen the program go through many changes to meet the needs of the community and the less fortunate. Some of these changes include an increase in employment opportunities and an expansion of the offered services into San Joaquin and San Bernardino County.
“We’re touching more lives than ever and helping people that are in need of our services,” Plane stated.