RCAP Solutions Appoints Brian D. Scales as Interim President & CEO

Brian Scales, Interim President & CEO

Brian D. Scales

The RCAP Solutions Board of Directors is pleased to announce the promotion of Brian D. Scales as Interim President & CEO of the organization. As previous Executive Vice President and proven leader within the organization, Mr. Scales succeeds Karen A. Koller, CAE, and assumes responsibilities on March 16, 2022. Ms. Koller is retiring from the organization after 21 years of service for health reasons, effective immediately.

“On behalf of the board, we are extremely grateful to Karen for her arduous work and dedication to RCAP Solutions over the past 21 years and we wish her the best on her retirement,” stated Laura McGee, Chair of the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors. “We are extremely excited to promote Brian to the role of Interim President & CEO of the organization. With his 14 years of service to RCAP Solutions and his strong experience within the organization, we are confident this transition will be a smooth one. We are looking forward to watching RCAP Solutions continue to grow under Brian’s leadership.”

Mr. Scales joined RCAP Solutions in 2008 with a diverse background in nonprofit development and strategic planning. During his 14 years with RCAP Solutions, he has gained extensive experience working in all aspects of program management and development and has built strong relationships with the organization’s diverse funders, partners and state and federal legislators. Mr. Scales has a distinctive understanding of the varied community and economic development challenges, making him uniquely qualified for his promotion to Interim President & CEO.

Mr. Scales received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Arts from University of Central Florida. He has also served on multiple nonprofit boards in the region as director and advisory board member.

“I am thrilled to see Brian named as Interim President & CEO of RCAP Solutions,” stated Keith Ashby, Interim CEO of RCAP, Inc. “Brian has accomplished remarkable things in his many years at the organization and has become an outstanding leader within the national RCAP network. His understanding of rural community needs, paired with his extensive legislative work, and vast program and development experience makes him the ideal person to succeed Ms. Koller. I am confident that Brian will build upon the tremendous work that Karen has achieved in her 21 years as a resolute champion in supporting the needs of small communities and positively impacting underserved populations.”

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP, Inc.), a national network of nonprofit partners with over 300 technical assistance providers across the country. RCAP works to improve the quality of life in rural America starting at the tap. RCAP Solutions provides services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. RCAP Solutions is also the Worcester County affiliate of The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, which delivers progressive, affordable housing solutions and education to families and individuals in every community throughout the state.

RCAP Solutions services approximately a half million people each year with a wide array of environmental, housing, economic development, and education and training programs.

About RCAP Solutions:
RCAP Solutions is an integrated community development corporation working with a multi-faceted suite of services in communities throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and the Caribbean. Established in 1969 (as Rural Housing Improvement), RCAP Solutions has supported the power and potential of communities for over half a century as strategists of community-wide well-being. 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. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

Contact: Maegen McCaffrey, Chief Communications Officer, (978) 630-6714, mmccaffrey@rcapsolutions.org

Open for Business Impact – Ethos Rehabilitation

Written By: Madison Wellman, Business Opportunity Specialist

Background: Jimmy Kakouris is a trained physical therapist from Boylston, Massachusetts. After years of experience in the field, Mr. Kakouris decided to open his own physical therapy practice, Ethos Rehabilitation. He approached Workers’ Credit Union – a partner in RCAP’s Open for Business Program – for start-up financing, but the business loan officers at the credit union did not have confidence in his plan. Instead of simply denying Mr. Kakouris financing, they referred him to RCAP to refine his business model.

The Challenge: Rural communities across the United States share a sense of underdeveloped entrepreneurial capacity. Lack of educational opportunities, poor connectivity infrastructure and a general absence of human capital capable of providing mentorship and expertise in the community all contribute to the high business failure rate in our nations small towns and villages. RCAP is striving to surmount these obstacles by delivering the absent human capital to rural communities in a cost-effective manner. In meeting this challenge, RCAP is building permanent entrepreneurial capacity in rural America.

The Approach & Solution: To rise to the challenge, RCAP launched the Open for Business program. The program delivers business expertise to rural communities through webinars, online workshops and one-on-one business consultations made available to entrepreneurs at no cost. All services are delivered remotely to reduce cost and maximize geographic reach. Jimmy Kakouris utilized this program to receive free guidance from RCAP’s experienced consultants. The RCAP consulting team worked with Mr. Kakouris to develop his business plan and financial projections to model his path to success. At the time of this writing, Mr. Kakouris received twenty-two hours of one-on-one consulting assistance.

Impact: RCAP’s professional consulting team was able to determine through financial modeling that Mr. Kakouris’ initial plan was not feasible. Specifically, the space that Mr. Kakouris wanted to lease for his physical therapy practice, while well-suited to the purpose, was far too expensive. Using IBUS data, the RCAP consulting team was able to model the revenues that Mr. Kakouris’ practice could expect in his market area. This financial model determined that Mr. Kakouris’ business would become insolvent in a matter of months – just as his lender feared. Once the initial plan was cast aside, Mr. Kakouris was able to work with the RCAP consulting team to develop a new strategy.

Today, Mr. Kakouris has a business plan that will provide a return on his investment, a budget for leased space that is appropriate for the Boylston, Massachusetts area, data-driven projections for his lenders and a professional marketing strategy – all of which cost him nothing but his time. If not for RCAP’s Open for Business Program, Mr. Kakouris would have never received financing, or worse, taken on debt for a plan that would have only succeeded in bankrupting him. In the case of Jimmy Kakouris and many other entrepreneurs around the country, bringing human capital to bear meant the difference between failure and success.

Featured Career Opportunity: Entry-Level Maintenance Technician

Multiple Openings! No Experience Necessary – We Will Train You!

Do you enjoy working with people? Do you want a career where no two days are the same? RCAP Solutions is currently looking for full-time entry-level maintenance technicians to staff our apartment complexes across Central Massachusetts! We have openings at our Groton, Hubbardston, and Worcester locations.

We are offering a $1,000 retention bonus to successful hires in the form of a $500 installment after 3 months of employment and another $500 installment after 6 months of employment!

No experience is necessary – we will train you! All you need is a team-player attitude and a desire to learn. However, if you like working with your hands or have a background as a janitor, painter, construction laborer, or landscaper – this may be the perfect opportunity to start a new career.

Be part of a hardworking, dedicated team and use your skills to help our senior and mobility impaired residents with their maintenance needs which play a crucial role in making their apartment feel like home.

RCAP Solutions offers an outstanding benefits package, including 14 paid holidays and your birthday off! Interested candidates should submit their resume and cover letter to HR@rcapsolutions.org.

Click Here for Full Position Description

RCAP Solutions Hires Business Opportunity Specialist

RCAP Solutions is pleased to announce the addition of Madison Wellman as Business Opportunity Specialist, managing the Open for Business program, a new economic development initiative providing support to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Mr. Wellman comes to RCAP Solutions with a diverse background in economic development, nonprofit management, sales, research, and communications. He has experience working in the political arena, as well as with small business startups, which provides him with a unique understanding of diverse business and community challenges.

Wellman served as the Regional Representative for Congressman Antonio Delgado in Oneonta, NY and Delhi, NY, where he worked closely with constituents from diverse backgrounds, including both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, and municipal government officials. In this role, he met with project stakeholders to discuss issues such as funding resources, grant opportunities, small business concerns, and agricultural issues. He also has experience launching new offices with Bright Drive Healthcare Solutions, where he identified suitable offices spaces, negotiated with realtors and property owners, and addressed other logistical start up challenges. Prior to this, he managed economic development projects at the town and county level for both Schoharie County and the Town of Schoharie, NY. Wellman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business and Economics from Canisius College of Buffalo, NY.

The Open for Business program is funded by Wells Fargo and offers self-guided online workshops, monthly webinars, and one-on-one consulting. This program offers education on a wide-variety of business concepts and caters to the specific needs of many rural, disadvantaged, and minority-owned small businesses. Topics include business law, business planning, marketing, financing, and accounting. These services are provided at no cost, in both English and Spanish, and are coordinated by our national affiliate, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), to provide services to small businesses across the country. RCAP Solutions services the Northeast and Caribbean regions.

“Mr. Wellman is a great complement to our team,” said Jenna Day, RCAP Solutions Director of Community Resources. “His understanding of rural community needs, paired with his legislative work and small business experience makes him the ideal person to support the small business community. The addition of the Open for Business program to our suite of services further expands our ability to support the economic development needs of rural communities in the northeast and Caribbean regions. The wide variety of resources, customized to cater to small business entrepreneurs, provides tremendous opportunity for underserved communities, and those who live and work there, to grow, thrive and cultivate stronger communities.”

RCAP Solutions’ Community Resources staff works hand in hand with community leaders and homeowners to incorporate the best tools and resources suited to protect public health and the environment while progressing towards financial sustainability and improved quality of life.

For additional information about the Open for Business Program, please contact Madison Wellman, Business Opportunity Specialist at: (774) 239-9783, mwellman@rcapsolutions.org or visit: www.rcapsolutions.org/open-for-business/.

About RCAP Solutions:
RCAP Solutions is an integrated community development corporation working with a multi-faceted suite of services in communities throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and the Caribbean. 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.

Virtual Math Training

Rebekah Novak, Water Compliance Specialist for Massachusetts, Online Tech Team Lead

Since COVID-19 hit in the early months of 2020, almost all businesses, schools, and government departments were impacted in a very big way; we could not meet face to face anymore. Every business was affected differently. But the show had to go on for essential workers like highway and construction workers, medical field staff, food industry, drinking water operations and wastewater operations. For many of these fields, people must earn contact hours/credits/education credits for the license they hold by taking classes to stay educated and informed. But with the limitations on in-person meetings, and how many people are allowed in a room, how are these license holders supposed to get the training they need to maintain their licenses? A little leeway was given for those people who had to renew their drivers license, but are Wastewater Operators allowed to to lapse in credits? No. License holders waited to see if they would be given extensions on earning credits but decision makers did not loosen up on the rules. Every person with a Wastewater License in the State of Massachusetts still had to earn 20 Total Contact Hours (TCHs) by the same deadline as before COVID.

For the first few months of the “lock-down” people just figured they had a whole year ahead of them to earn credits, but as the months passed, the clock kept counting down, yet the states did not open up. Luckily, some organizations adapted and learned a new platform: virtual training. RCAP Solutions was one of those organizations that jumped right into virtual training as soon as they saw there was no end it sight to the shutdowns. Wanting to keep their staff members as well as the public safe at home or in the office, RCAP Solutions decided if they couldn’t bring people to their training, they would bring their training to the people, virtually.
Once the virtual platform was learned, the PowerPoint presentations were then altered to a friendlier format for virtual learning. The first session to go online was Basic Math for Operators. This course is intended to help both existing operators brush up on their math skills, (while earning credits) but also to help future operators prepare to pass the exam, by learning about the basic math concepts that are applied every day on the job (and it the exam).

Teaching Math in person is not all that easy but teaching it virtually made for some additional difficulties. RCAP does not typically use webcams because most clients/attendees do not have a strong internet connection and the webcams use too much bandwidth. So how do you know if your attendees are understanding the concepts you are teaching without being able to SEE them? There are several tools to use to make sure the attendees are paying attention and keeping up with you on the other side of that computer screen:

1. PowerPoint/Presentation visuals:
a. use more animation than in person slides to make the slides more interesting. The attendees have little else to look at and many distractions within an arm’s reach.
b. Use less words on each slide. Too much reading on a computer screen is tiresome, so add more pictures to convey the ideas that are discussed.

2. Virtual Interactive tools:
a. Polls: gather information or beliefs about attendees. ASK how the pace of the class is, or if they understand the topic at hand.
b. Tests: quiz attendees on covered topics to keep them engaged, and to get an idea of how well they understand that topic.
c. Virtual hand raising: ask yes/no questions or invite attendees to ask questions
d. Virtual group work: create a sense of community and work together to complete an activity
e. Chat box: ask attendees to answer your questions in the chat box. Ask them to ask questions of their own in the chat box. Get people comfortable with the chat box right away, ask icebreaker questions to get them warmed up to it.
f. Evaluation: break your evaluations down by topic, so they can be rated individually. Ask attendees to rate the platform, or each of the tools separately to see how effective they were. Ask for suggestions to make the training session better.

3. Voice:
a. Inflection: Work on your presentation voice. Try to use inflections, making your voice pitch go up and down to signify important words, grammar, or the end of sentences. Monotone voices are hard to listen to for long periods of time.
b. Quality: Be sure the quality of your audio is good. Use a headset or a microphone so your audience only hears your voice. Tinny or muffled voices are hard to understand.

4. Technical assistance: One of the most important tools to have ready is technical assistance. Some people run into issues and if they have never used online training before, they will need some help to navigate, or else, they will most likely give up and sign off. Have an extra person or two who can help individuals solve their technical issues, like connecting to audio in the beginning of a training.
Are you a License holder looking for more virtual training? Sign up for the email lists of your local associations or memberships. Express your interest in learning about a certain topic to a virtual trainer that puts on multiple sessions a year.

Are you a committee member/government official/association looking to present topics to a certain audience but do not have a way to do so? Talk to someone who recently put on a training to see if they will host your topics. Or see if they know of others who simply “host” presentations on their platform license.

Virtual trainings and presentations can be intimidating, but with the right tools and a little preparation, they can be as effective as a face to face meeting. As an added bonus, they are incredibly attractive for busy people, cut down on travel time and expenses, and promote safe learning and communications during this challenging time.

RCAP Network Survey Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Rural Water and Wastewater Systems

Our national affiliate, The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), recently released a survey that shows the major impacts of COVID-19 on small and rural systems. The survey received more than 1,100 unique responses from systems in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

The staggering data revealed that under current conditions, 31% of systems cannot sustain current financial losses for more than 6 months. In addition, more than 43% of systems surveyed said they rely on one full-time operator or less to operate their system (many rely on part-time staff, operators or volunteers), and many respondents indicated a concern over the health of their operators in the maintenance of the system. To view the full survey findings, click here.

RCAP also released state-specific data that can be shared with policymakers in each state to advocate for the continued need of future COVID-19 response funding for small water and wastewater systems. Below are the one-pagers for our service areas. More states will continue to be added.

RCAP Network COVID-19 Survey Reveals Small Water and Wastewater Systems’ Financial Outlooks

Addressing Stagnant Water in Buildings

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued guidance regarding the issue of stagnant water in buildings as people head back to the office and other facilities. Please see the message below or click on this link.

Make sure water in your pipes is fresh

During the COVID-19 pandemic some buildings and facilities have little or no water running through the pipes and fixtures for an extended period of time. These stagnant water conditions can result in discolored water, lower chlorine levels, higher concentrations of lead and copper and even the proliferation of Legionella, under certain building conditions. Fresh water should be drawn into the building water systems and stagnant water flushed out before the buildings are reopened.

EPA and MassDEP recommend that building owners and managers take proactive steps to protect public health by minimizing water stagnation during closures and taking action to address building water quality prior to reopening.

Use the following steps to get fresh water into your building:

  • Review and understand the plumbing configuration and water usage in your building.
  • Inspect the plumbing to ensure it is functioning properly and is in good condition.
  • Contact your water utility if you have questions on water use and quality in in your area. For a list of Massachusetts public water suppliers click here.
  • Maintain any water treatment systems used in the building, such as any point-of-entry or point-of-use filters or water softeners.
  • Maintain the hot water system, including keeping the temperature at or above 120°F per CDC guidance to prevent Legionella growth. See CDC’s guidance for reopening buildings for additional information, referenced in the Resources section below.
  • Flush the building’s plumbing system regularly. See instructions for flushing in the Resource section below.
  • Maintain all non-drinking water building water systems and devices according to the manufacturer’s specifications, such as: sprinkler systems, eye-wash stations, and safety showers, decorative fountains/water features, spas, hot tubs, pools, and cooling towers, etc.
  • Consider developing a water management program for your building water systems and all devices that use water. See CDC instructions for developing a water management program in the Resource section below.

Resources

Registraton for the Pennsylvania Regional Collaboration Summit is now open!

Taking place on March 10 – 11 in State College, Pennsylvania, this event will provide information, tools, and resources for communities to efficiently sustain their water and wastewater systems through regional collaboration, sharing services, or partnering with other organizations for mutual benefit. During this event attendees will hear from a number of speakers from various agencies and organizations and will participate in activities designed to inform and educate.

For more information about the event and to register, click here.

QUESTIONS? CONTACT:
Derik J. Dressler
Pennsylvania Regionalization Specialist
814-571-0727
ddressler@rcapsolutions.org

Save The Date! Pennsylvania Regional Collaboration Summit

This March, RCAP Solutions and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership invite you to attend a Regional Collaboration Summit. This summit will engage many stakeholders, including elected and appointed local government officials, state and federal agency staff, and others that play a role in water and wastewater utility management.

Mark your calendars and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information in the coming weeks.

More Than 2M Americans Living Without Access to Running Water & Sanitation Services

New Report Reveals More Than 2 Million Americans Living Without Access to Running Water and Sanitation Services
Report by DigDeep and US Water Alliance Unveils America’s Hidden Water Crisis

November 19, 2019 – Washington, DC – Two national non-profit groups, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance, released a new report, “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan,” which included the Rural Community Assistance Partnership’s (RCAP’s) unique perspective from working with small, often disadvantaged, rural communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. While most Americans take reliable access to clean, safe water for granted, this new nationwide study found that more than two million Americans are living without running water, indoor plumbing, or wastewater treatment.

On the Navajo Nation in the Southwest, families drive for hours to haul barrels of water to meet their basic needs. In West Virginia, they drink from polluted streams. In Alabama, parents warn their children not to play outside because their yards are flooded with sewage. Families living in Texas border towns worry because there is no running water to fight fires.

Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States is the most comprehensive national study on the more than two million Americans who lack access to water service. The report fills an important knowledge gap: there is no one entity—whether a federal agency or research institution—that collects comprehensive data on the scope of the United States water access problem.

The report’s authors, with researchers from Michigan State University, examine six areas where the water access gap is particularly acute: the Central Valley of California, border colonias in Texas, rural counties in Mississippi and Alabama, rural West Virginia, the “four corners” area in the Southwest, and Puerto Rico. Researchers spoke to families living without water and captured their stories of poor health and economic hardship. The authors also spoke to local community leaders working to solve the water crisis by distributing water, building community-centered water projects where no infrastructure exists, and advocating for policy change to bring more reliable services to rural and unincorporated communities. Despite these community efforts, data suggests that some communities may be backsliding; six states and Puerto Rico saw recent increases in their populations without water access.

The report contains contributions from Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) network members from across the country, including research and policy perspectives from the national office in Washington, D.C., as well as perspectives on-the-ground from RCAP regional partners including RCAP Solutions (the Northeastern RCAP,) Communities Unlimited (the Southern RCAP,) Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (the Great Lakes RCAP) and Rural Community Assistance Corporation (the Western RCAP).

“Working with rural communities, we see the negative effects families face when their access to clean and safe water is threatened,” said RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle. “As members of the US Water Alliance, we vow to partake in these solutions to help close the water gap in America as quickly as possible, so rural communities can continue to thrive.”

George McGraw, Founder, DigDeep, said: “Over the past few years, DigDeep has brought running water to hundreds of families on the Navajo Nation, but now we’ve learned this hardship is shared by millions of Americans across the country. To live daily without reliable drinking water and with untreated sewage are conditions more frequently associated with impoverished nations, but it’s happening in our own backyards. With all the resources being leveraged to solve the water and sanitation crisis abroad, I have no doubt we can close the water gap in America quickly if we redouble our efforts.”

Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance, said: “It’s hard to imagine that in America today, people are living without basics like safe and reliable water service. While the challenges are daunting, this report presents a national action plan to close the water access gap in our lifetime. From the Central Valley to the Navajo nation, there are community-centered solutions that are working. Now is the time to build upon these innovations and ensure every American can thrive.”

The report makes several recommendations to help close the water gap in the United States. Recommendations include re-introducing Census questions about whether homes have working taps and toilets, as well as changes to how the federal government funds and regulates water systems to support rural and unincorporated areas. There are also several recommendations for the philanthropic and global WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) sectors to drive community empowerment, deploy innovative technologies, and apply successful WASH models from abroad here in the United States.

Read the full report at closethewatergap.org.
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Media Contact:
Kinsey Brown, RCAP Communications Manager
(202) 800-4127
kbrown@rcap.org
www.rcap.org