By CAPIC Board of Directors
During 2017, CAPIC celebrated its 50th year as a community action agency. Since 1967, CAPIC has served as the federal and state designated Community Action Agency for the communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop although in 1965 the City of Chelsea received its first grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity to establish the Chelsea Community Action Council and Community Action Programs Revere Initiative.
Throughout five decades, CAPIC has been both the first stop for people in need, as well as the last stop when other resources have failed. We are problem-solvers, always going beyond what is ordinarily expected and achieving the not so possible. As a multi-service, community-based organization, CAPIC has provided comprehensive, one-stop, anti-poverty services to thousands of individuals and families who seek help. The unique composition of the board of directors representing public, private and low-income sectors of the three communities has been our mainstay that ensures consistency and oversight; safeguarding that the basic mission of the organization was always preserved.
Locally, CAPIC has been the front line of defense for persons in need, especially during times of family crises, and natural disaster as first seen in October 1973 when CAPIC was commissioned by FEMA to relocate 200 displaced families from housing after the great conflagration that devastated over a 20-block area of Chelsea and again in February 1978, when during the blizzard, CAPIC provided housing, clothing, food and emergency oil to hundreds of Revere families displaced by flood waters and those who were snow bound. Most recently, on July 28, 2014, CAPIC placed Revere families who were displaced by a tornado in emergency housing and again on June 13, 2017 when a four-alarm fire on Taft Street, Revere caused many to be without shelter. Resources were immediately mobilized and together with Revere officials, families were placed in temporary shelters.
Here we are today, a vibrant organization that provides a myriad of life sustaining services to over 15,000 area residents annually. During 2017, CAPIC provided nearly 2,000 at-risk, low-income individuals and families with access to food and basic needs; prevented 33 families from becoming homeless through the utilization of United Way EFSP funds; prevented an additional 23 families from becoming homeless through EOHHS Flex funds for rental assistance; distributed 1,500 winter coats to needy adults and children through a partnership with Anton’s Cleaners Coats for Kids program; distributed donated Christmas/holiday toys to 450 low-income children; provided 50 victims of domestic violence with comprehensive case management, advocacy, and counseling services; and provided 100 street-involved individuals in Chelsea with substance/alcohol related issues with direct comprehensive support service. In addition, CAPIC’s Mobile Outreach Team conducted intensive street outreach in Chelsea to identify and refer street-involved homeless individuals experiencing alcohol/opioid addiction for services which included 50 sober living placements and 40 medical interventions with a volunteer licensed physician.
CAPIC also partnered with MGH on the Merck Foundation: Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Grant. This is a two-year, grant program that works to improve equity by advancing cancer patient-centered care for underserved populations. In May 2017, CAPIC was designated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as the official Continuum of Care -Balance of State Homeless Provider for Chelsea and Revere. Given this official designation, CAPIC is commissioned to assume responsibility to coordinate homelessness prevention activities for Chelsea and Revere and also coordinate the Annual Point-In-Time Count (in conjunction with DHCD), and organize volunteer efforts for counting unsheltered persons in Chelsea and Revere. CAPIC also received an FY’17 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the City of Chelsea to enhance access to health care for low-income populations in Chelsea.
In addition, CAPIC helped 3,431 low-income households keep warm during the winter months through the Fuel Assistance Program, as well as provided weatherization and heating efficiency services to 80 households, and replaced and/or repaired a total of 435 inefficient heating systems; provided 400 individuals referred by the Social Security Administration with responsible payee support services; filed tax returns for 192 individuals; and provided over 500 low-income children 0-13 years with Head Start/educational support, child care, after school, and summer camp programming, as well as over 400 families with parenting skills and healthy family development through the Chelsea/Revere Family Network program. CAPIC Real Estate, Inc. in partnership with CAPIC purchased a 13-unit lodging house at 72 Dehon St., Revere, in an effort to preserve tenancies through affordable housing.
Our ability to accomplish this work, past and present, is a direct result of those people who have chosen public service as a career and the dedicated members of the Board of Directors and Policy Council. They strive to have a better community, with employment opportunity, safe housing, education, food, clothing and healthcare for everyone. We express our gratitude to our elected and appointed delegation that without their support we could not succeed. There are also the compassionate partners at DHCD and HHS that understand the plight of the poor; there are those in sister organizations whose collaboration and cooperation make our work more effective. Perhaps the greatest asset that we have and sometimes overlook, is our clergy, whose spiritual guidance and prayers have given us the courage and motivation to persevere in an environment where it isn’t popular to be poor.
We have also forged strong alliances with the local police and fire departments and greatly appreciate the support and assistance we receive from the city and town Community Development and Health Departments. Over the years we have relied on our historic alliance with local school departments that have provided us with space for Head Start and After School/Summer Camp programming. Special thanks to former State Reps. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Reps. RoseLee Vincent and Dan Ryan; and Sens. Sal DiDomenico and Joe Boncore for their untiring support for CAPIC throughout the years.
A quote from CAPIC’s third executive director: “Progress has not been easy- there have been crises, cutbacks, quarrels, opposition. Yet, when it was most important, we have always closed ranks and worked together, and so accomplished much. Perhaps even more important are our less tangible accomplishments. Because of CAPIC, thousands of Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop residents, especially low-income people, have become aware of their rights and responsibilities, and the value of working together to improve opportunities for all.”