RCAP Solutions Selected as Hannaford Cause Bag Beneficiary

RCAP Solutions, Inc. was selected as a beneficiary of the Hannaford Cause Bag program for the month of November.

The Hannaford Cause Bag program is designed to support local nonprofits through the sale of their reusable Hannaford Helps bag.

RCAP Solutions, Inc. was selected by Hannaford store leadership as the November beneficiary of the program at the 21 Timpany Boulevard, Gardner, MA Hannaford store. For every Hannaford Helps reusable bag with the good karma message purchased at the Hannaford Store in Gardner, MA during the month of November, RCAP Solutions, Inc. will receive a $1 donation.

“This is an exciting opportunity for RCAP Solutions as we kick off our holiday season giving campaign,” said Karen A. Koller, President & CEO. “Our focus this year is to raise funds to help Puerto Rican hurricane victims. With this initiative, we’re providing an opportunity for the greater Gardner area to support those in the U.S. Caribbean territories as they struggle to rebuild their lives and stabilize their future.”

The funds raised will be divided into two distinct categories. The first will be directed towards the immediate need of providing emergency housing and support services to those who have chosen to resettle either temporarily or permanently in Massachusetts. The second will be deployed over the coming months to assist with reconstruction and economic recovery projects to those on the island of Puerto Rico.

“RCAP Solutions is uniquely positioned to help those who have been devastated by the recent hurricanes,” continued Koller. “With our housing efforts in Worcester County and a seasoned technical assistance team in Puerto Rico, RCAP Solutions is ready and able to meet the needs of those who so desperately need our vital services.”

RCAP Solutions has set a goal of raising $20,000 during the holiday season to support these two important initiatives.

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.

Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families and the communities in which they live. RCAP Solutions is a comprehensive nonprofit community development corporation that works with communities of all sizes to address a broad range of needs. RCAP Solutions is part of a coordinated nationwide network with an integrated, multi-faceted approach to delivering high-quality services customized to each community’s unique requirements. For more information, please visit http://www.rcapsolutions.org/.

For more information on the Hannaford Cause Bag program, visit hannaford.bags4mycause.com.

Imagine a Day Without Water

With all the division in our government, it is easy to forget there are some policy priorities that actually cut across party lines and geographical boundaries. Constituents may have different opinions on health care and tax reform, but they have a lot in common too. They get up in the morning and brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and make coffee. Many of them commute to school or work. They travel with their families on summer vacations and for holidays. They buy groceries and eat at restaurants.

When it comes to the essentials, we really do have more that unites us than divides us, which is why the majority of Americans want the federal government to prioritize investing in infrastructure. Earlier this year, voters were polled on what they wanted the federal government to focus on for a legislative agenda. By a double-digit margin, investment in infrastructure was the most important topic above any other issue. Two thirds of voters said so. And an astonishing 82 percent of Americans said water infrastructure needed to be a top priority. Eighty-two percent of Americans can’t even agree on what day of the week it is!

But if you think about it, water unites all of us. Of course people say it should be a priority. Can you even begin to imagine a day without water? It isn’t just your personal use of water – brushing your teeth, flushing your toilet, taking a shower – though those rituals are vital. Water is also essential to a functioning economy. What is a college campus or a hotel supposed to do if there is no water? They close. How can a restaurant, coffee shop, or brewery serve customers without water to cook, make coffee and beer, or wash the dishes? They can’t. And what about manufacturers – from pharmaceuticals to automobiles – that rely on water? They would grind to a halt too.

An economic study released by the Value of Water Campaign earlier this year found that a single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk. But investing in water infrastructure, unfortunately, has not been a priority for decades. The federal government’s investment has declined precipitously, leaving states, localities, and water utilities to make up the difference. Which means it is on localities to raise taxes, or for utilities to charge water rates that can pay for the massive infrastructure system of pumps, plants, and pipes. And the truth is, communities across the country have let those systems deteriorate for far too long.

We saw the tragedy in Flint, Michigan where thousands of residents were affected by tainted water supplies. Water systems in other communities are under threat too, and millions of Americans live in regions that completely lack water infrastructure.

There is no doubt about it – a day without water is a crisis. That is why we are joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water, because we want people to pay attention to our water systems. This country can do great things, and if 82 percent of Americans agree on something it must be important. Water is a public health issue, it is an economic issue. No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves a safe, reliable, accessible water supply. Let’s demand better, and make sure no American ever has to imagine a day without water again.

 

RCAP Staff Finally Arrive Home in Puerto Rico

Pictured from left: Josefa Torres-Olivo, District Director of Puerto Rico & U.S.V.I.; Edwin Vazquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist, Community Resources; and Juan Campos Collazo, Community Development Specialist, Community Resources.

RCAP Solutions staff members were finally able to return home to their families in Puerto Rico after being in the states since Monday, September 18, before Hurricane Maria hit later that week. The three Puerto Rico based staff members were in Massachusetts for an all staff meeting and were then stranded in Florida for ten days awaiting a return flight to the island.

The following email message went out just before getting on the plane:

“Just to let you know that we are leaving Florida in a couple of minutes. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers, it’s going to be an emotional day when we finally get together with our families. We will stay in contact if possible! A long journey ends and, a new one will start today. Please keep us in your prayers for strength and health so we can help others and raise from the adversity as we are good people and stronger than ever!”

Our thoughts go out to all those in Puerto Rico, the U.S.V.I. and the many others as they recover from the crippling effects of the recent hurricanes and other natural disasters. For almost 50 years, RCAP Solutions has been a vital resource to those in rural communities when they have critical need for assistance. We’re working with our staff and partner agencies in those areas to assess the most pressing short term and long-term needs. In the coming weeks, we’ll be outlining new initiatives that will provide funds and assistance to those in need as they work to rebuild their homes and communities.

RCAP Releases Statement on Administration’s Budget Cuts

RCAP LogoWASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, the Trump Administration released its full budget proposal to Congress. The proposal includes deep cuts to programs that will fundamentally hinder the ability for rural communities to thrive. In response to Administration’s budget, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) Inc.’s Executive Director Nathan Ohle released the following statement:

“This budget will severely hurt rural communities that have already been left behind. Now more than ever we need to be helping rural communities create opportunities to create good paying jobs, provide safe and affordable drinking water and adequately treated wastewater, and to develop infrastructure that will lead to economic growth.”

“There is a universal need for the federal government to support capacity building, technical assistance, and infrastructure funding in every community across America. The majority of small and rural communities that RCAP serves continue to struggle with capacity, expertise and adequate funding resources. They rely not only upon on RCAP’s technical assistance and training, but also loan and grant funding provided by the EPA’s State Revolving Funds and USDA Rural Development programs.”

“Cuts for safe drinking water and wastewater programs, the elimination of programs like USDA’s Water/Wastewater Grant and Loan Program, HHS’s Rural Community Facilities Program, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and HUD’s Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Program are unacceptable. These programs were designed to help communities, particularly small rural communities, to invest in infrastructure, public health and economic development in some of the nation’s hardest hit areas.”

“Rural communities are the lifeblood of this country, and we stand ready to work in partnership with the federal government to improve programs that create healthy, vibrant and economically sustainable regions. RCAP is committed to working with the White House and Congress to show how this budget as proposed would adversely affect rural communities, and welcome the opportunity to engage in productive conversations that will lead to opportunity for every community across the country.”

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is a national network of six regional RCAPs working to ensure that rural and small communities through the United States have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The Partnership provides a variety of programs to accomplish this goal, such as direct training and technical assistance. For more information, visit www.rcap.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

CONTACT Bianca Poll, Director of Communications, bpoll@rcap.org 202-470-2808

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, providing services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

RCAP partners with The Health Foundation of Central MA

LogoRCAP Solutions partners with The Health Foundation of Central MA to Assist Rural Communities With Safe Drinking Water

Worcester, MA – RCAP Solutions has completed a project which assisted public water systems in the towns of Ashburnham, Hardwick, Wheelwright, Gilbertville, and Lancaster increase their capacity to plan, operate and manage existing drinking water facilities to ensure their efficiency, affordability, dependability and sustainability. By providing technical, managerial and financial needs assessments, deficiencies were identified, priorities selected, and issues were addressed. As a result, the long-term effects of the project will positively impact over 17,300 residents in small, rural communities and ensure their access to safe and affordable water.

“We are thrilled with the successful outcome of this project which was funded by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “Rural America is right here in our backyard, represented by many communities in Central Massachusetts. We are pleased to be able to fulfill our mission and meet the essential needs of small towns by providing this valuable technical assistance so that community water systems can provide safe, clean drinking water to their residents.”

“Especially because of the extreme drought conditions the region has been experiencing, our awareness of the need for a sufficient supply of clean water is heightened,” said Dr. Jan Yost, President of the Foundation. “We thank RCAP Solutions for helping to assure the residents in these rural communities of their water supply now and into the future.”

Asset management plans were created and implemented in all five of the drinking water systems, offering countless system efficiencies and ultimately enabling the participating communities to be proactive instead of reactive in their decision making processes. These plans help systems identify all of their assets, assess worth, expected lifetime remaining, replacement costs and ultimately look at financial planning to ensure their budgets have room for future needed improvements. Other outcomes which resulted from the project included regionalization studies focused on sharing services to create economies of scale and keep down costs, assistance with federal compliance issues, and uncovering new funding opportunities and potential revenue sources.

The project capstone was a day-long regional asset management training for small water system owners and operators which provided six training contact hours  to 26 attendees including 21 operators representing 17 small community systems. Asset Management may become a MA water system requirement so these three communities and the additional systems that attended the training will be ahead of the game if  a statewide mandate is eventually in place.

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.

Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families and the communities in which they live. RCAP Solutions is a comprehensive nonprofit community development corporation that works with communities of all sizes to address a broad range of needs. RCAP Solutions is part of a coordinated nationwide network with an integrated, multi-faceted approach to delivering high-quality services customized to each community’s unique requirements. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

About The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

The Foundation was established in 1999 with the proceeds from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO. The Foundation currently has assets of approximately $68 million and has awarded grants totaling approximately $36 million to improve the health of those who live or work in Central Massachusetts. For further information about the Foundation’s grant programs, please visit The Health Foundation’s website at www.hfcm.org.

Nonprofit Leaders Meet in Central MA

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network led a policy discussion with 14 Worcester area nonprofit leaders at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network led a policy discussion with 14 Worcester area nonprofit leaders at the YWCA of Central Mass.

Nonprofit Leaders Convene at YWCA Central Massachusetts for the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network’s Regional Meeting

Nonprofit leaders from across Central Massachusetts came together this morning at YWCA Central Massachusetts for the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN)’s annual regional meeting. Throughout the morning, nonprofits shared best practices for advocacy, outlined issues important to the sector, and brainstormed on how to respond to state and federal policy issues impacting the sector. The MNN central Massachusetts regional meeting was presented in partnership with RCAP Solutions.

“We want to thank RCAP Solutions for partnering with us to make this meeting a meaningful event,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN). “As the voice of the nonprofit sector, it is critical that MNN gets out to meet with nonprofit leaders to exchange ideas, learn about regional issues affecting nonprofits, and prepare for policy issues and trends impacting the sector. Today we gained invaluable insight from our central Massachusetts colleagues into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the nonprofit sector.”

“I am honored to represent the greater Worcester county area for the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network,” said Karen Koller, President and CEO of RCAP Solutions. “Nonprofits are a core industry to the commonwealth and the more that can be done to unify the industry the better all will be. The regional meetings are essential to the ongoing collaboration of the MNN and those across the commonwealth.”

Each year, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network holds eight regional meetings across the state to bring together leaders from the nonprofit sector. The meetings are an opportunity for local nonprofit leaders to network and discuss issues facing the sector. This year’s meetings focused on several policy issues that will have direct impact on Massachusetts including the Baker Administration’s proposed health care assessment for employers, PILOTs, repeal of the Johnson Amendment, and potential changes to the charitable giving incentive.

This year’s meetings have already attracted nearly 150 nonprofit leaders.

 

About the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) is the voice of the nonprofit sector and the only statewide organization that brings together all parts of the nonprofit ecosystem—nonprofits, funders, community and business leaders, and elected officials—to strengthen nonprofits and raise the sector’s voice on critical issues. MNN understands that strong nonprofits build strong communities. It is MNN’s mission to strengthen the nonprofit community through advocacy, public awareness, and capacity building. MNN has more than 650 nonprofit members and over 100 for-profit affiliate members. For more information or to become a member, visit www.massnonprofitnet.org.

Sister Katherine Byrne’s 100th Birthday

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RCAP Solutions celebrated the 100th birthday of Sister Katherine Byrne, a resident of Hubbardston House Apartments.

The festive Irish event was attended by residents of the property, RCAP staff, and members of St. Patrick’s Parish in Rutland and included a corned beef and cabbage luncheon, hosted by the Hubbardston House Activities Committee, followed by traditional Irish music, cake and the 100th Birthday celebration for Sister Katherine Byrne.

RCAP Solutions manages over 300 affordable apartments for the elderly, disabled, and families in Athol, Bolton, Groton, Hubbardston, Northbridge, Townsend, Webster and Worcester. Hubbardston House Apartments is a senior and disabled housing complex providing 36 smoke free units to individuals aged 62 or older or with a mobility impairment.

Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families and the communities in which they live. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

New Report: State Program Keeps Worcester County Families Housed, Saves Commonwealth Millions Every Year

RCAP Solutions praises the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program

Nov. 22, 2016 (Worcester) – This past year, the state’s largest family homelessness prevention program kept 300 families out of emergency shelter, and in doing so saved Massachusetts $10.3 million.

A report released this week, called “RAFT 2015-2016: Residential Assistance for Families in Transition in Worcester County,” takes a look at RAFT and how it helped families in Worcester County in fiscal 2015 and 2016. The report – from the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts and RCAP Solutions – shows the value of the program, not only in how many families are diverted from emergency shelter every year but also in the economic savings for the commonwealth.

The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program helps families with very low and extremely low incomes who are on the verge of becoming homeless. The majority of these clients are women in their 30s with two children, the report shows.

“My life was collapsing slowly, I had no hope,” said Tracy, an RCAP Solutions RAFT client. “I couldn’t imagine doing it on my own. [Now] my children and I are in a happy place.  We are thankful for RCAP Solutions – they have helped my family and me tremendously. With everything, they gave me hope; they gave me the strength to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to the RAFT program my family is complete and we were given a second chance of being happy, reunited. We are complete.”

RAFT clients – who apply for help at RCAP Solutions or one of 10 other housing agencies statewide – can receive up to $4,000 annually to help stave off homelessness. Although they can use the aid from year to year, most do not: less than one percent of RAFT users (only two out of 300 clients), in 2016 had received aid the year prior, demonstrating how effective RAFT is at keeping people housed.

After deemed eligible, families use the flexible RAFT benefits to stay stably housed, by helping to pay for housing needs such as back rent, utility bills, child care, start-up rental expenses, moving costs and more.

“RAFT is vitally important in helping families in danger of losing their homes,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “This report shows that it is dramatically less expensive to help families maintain their housing and to avoid the emergency shelter system once a family becomes homeless.  RAFT is critical in helping families remain in safe, affordable housing and as a result, experiencing fewer traumas and retaining their dignity.”

If RAFT were not available, the state could expect to pay $36,855 a year to keep a family sheltered for an average stay of 10 and a half months; in 2016 in the RCAP Solutions service area, it would’ve cost the commonwealth $11,056,500. RAFT aid payments only cost $800,707 by comparison.

For information about RAFT Assistance, call 800.488.1969 and ask to speak with a housing counselor.

To vew the full Worcester county report click here: RCAP Solutions RAFT Report

To view the statewide report click here: RAFT in Mass 2016

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.

RCAP Solutions has been helping people throughout central Massachusetts with a wide range of housing and supportive services since 1969. Our mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families and the communities in which they live. RCAP Solutions is the Worcester County affiliate of The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts and the Northeast affiliate to the national RCAP (Rural Community Assistance Partnership) Network. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

About The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts

The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts has worked on a regional level to address the needs of constituents for 38 years. Network members – Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, Community Teamwork Inc., Franklin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, HAPHousing, Housing Assistance Corporation, Housing Solutions for Southeastern Massachusetts, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership Inc., RCAP Solutions Inc. and South Middlesex Opportunity Council Inc. – cover the commonwealth and are available to all 351 cities and towns for assistance with housing development, management and policy setting. All of this is in addition to the network’s core work of implementing and managing innovative and traditional housing programs designed to assist people of all income levels. Learn more at www.regionalhousing.net.

 

Worcester Bravehearts Letter to the Editor

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

To the Editor:

On behalf of everyone at RCAP Solutions, I would like to thank the Worcester Bravehearts, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the residents of Worcester for their generosity and support for our recent “Gone to the Birds Night” at Hanover Insurance Park.

The event, coupled with the Worcester Chamber’s Business After Hours event, featured the first-ever Bravehearts jersey auction and a special birdhouse raffle which raised over $2,200 for homelessness prevention initiatives throughout Worcester Country.

We will not soon forget the excitement on the faces of the children at the game as the players signed their jerseys. The entire night was a wonderful and gratifying experience that made us proud to a part of the community we serve!

Special thanks also go out to the incredible Bravehearts staff, Cheryl Hughes of Clinton for the birdhouse donation and artist Mark Waitkus of West Boylston for the signed Bravehearts print.

We thank the volunteers and those in the community who supported this fundraising initiative. The outstanding show of support proves that the people of the Worcester region stand with RCAP Solutions and our mission of fostering personal and public self-reliance and improving the quality of life for individuals and families in the communities where we live.

Most sincerely,

KAK Signature

Karen A. Koller, CAE

President & CEO, RCAP Solutions

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day by Supporting Water Quality Projects in 40 States and Puerto Rico

 

Of the USDA projects announced in the following release, RCAP Solutions provided technical assistance on 9 projects in CT, ME, MA, NY, and RI that were awarded funding over the past several years.  This resulted in $34,640,000  in USDA Loans and $59,111,872  in RD and Farm Bill grants for a total of $93,751,872 to small communities for water and wastewater system improvements.  

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WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today celebrated Earth Day by announcing record support for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment.

“Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said. “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these. I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”

Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program.

Also noteworthy this year are USDA’s accomplishments to help communities with the greatest needs. Sixteen of the Earth Day projects are in areas of persistent poverty. Twenty-nine are in communities served by USDA’s ” StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.” StrikeForce is a USDA initiative to reduce poverty by increasing investments in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships with community leaders, businesses, foundations and other groups that are working to combat poverty.

Climate change in particular is putting more stress on municipal water systems. Many areas around the country have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, declines in snowpack, intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. All of these are placing fiscal strains on communities – causing them to make more frequent (and often more expensive) repairs and upgrades.

Among projects funded this year, the city of McCrory, Ark., is receiving $2.1 million to build a water treatment facility and two water supply wells, and refurbish its two water storage tanks. The improvements will reduce high manganese and iron levels in the water supply to provide safe drinking water to McCrory’s nearly 800 residents. McCrory is in Woodruff County, a persistent poverty area that is part of USDA’s “StrikeForce initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.”

Paintsville, Ky., is receiving a $4.9 million loan and $2.1 million grant to rehabilitate its sanitary and stormwater sewer systems. This is one of 10 projects funded by USDA that will improve water infrastructure in rural areas of Kentucky. The Paintsville project will serve nearly 2,300 residents and businesses and protect the ecosystems of Paint Creek and nearby lakes.

The city of San Joaquin, Calif., is receiving a $1 million loan/grant combination to replace a contaminated well. The city had to shut down one of its three wells due to high levels of bacteria. Once completed, this project will ensure San Joaquin residents have safe, clean drinking water.

In Ohio, the Erie County Commissioners will use $3 million in loans and nearly $3 million in grants to replace individual on-site waste treatment systems that discharge into and pollute the Sandusky Bay and surrounding areas. The commissioners also will build a wastewater collection system for the Village of Bay View and the neighboring Bay Bridge area. The Bay View peninsula is a vital ecological and economic area in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the role each person can play to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include citizens and governments in more than 195 countries.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.