Tania’s Story: A Graduate of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program Who Didn’t Just Meet Her Goals, but Exceeded Them!

A single parent, Tania had been living in a subsidized housing apartment for several years when she heard about the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program from a friend. In 2016, when she first enrolled in the program, Tania used a wheelchair due to a rare inflammation in her back and knees, but that did not hinder her ambition.

A self-proclaimed “go-getter”, Tania came into the program with very clear goals:

  • Improve and build her credit score
  • Purchase a new car
  • Further her education
  • Grow her career
  • And accomplish the ultimate task – purchasing a home

Coupled by the support provided by RCAP Solutions and her extreme drive to succeed, Tania not only met these goals – but exceeded them.

The FSS Program is a 5-year program which helps Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holders and Project-Based Voucher recipients to achieve economic stability. Program participants receive a financial incentive of an escrow account in their name that they will have access to after graduating the program. In addition, program participants work with a dedicated case manager to set milestones and achieve several goals which result in increased financial independence.

Tania first had to fix her poor credit score, which she did by attending a Financial Capability workshop at RCAP Solutions. She was able to review her credit report and removed excess and unused accounts. She opened a new credit card account and learned to budget so that she could pay her bills when they were due.

No longer needing a wheelchair, and due to the success of her newfound financial freedom, Tania was able to purchase a new car. She attended community college and graduated with a degree in accounting.

Tania’s employers at a home improvement retailer, impressed by her achievements at both work and in her personal life, promoted her twice since she began working there in 2017. Tania now serves as a district manager and oversees the installation of doors, windows, cabinets, and other miscellaneous home improvement projects for customers across the region.

In addition, Tania has been the recipient of several professional awards for her dedication and commitment to her co-workers, customers, and associates. Tania has taken on further professional development courses and enrolled in leadership skills training.

After spending so much time working in the home improvement business, Tania decided it was time for a home of her own. She enrolled in the First-Time Homebuyer Certification class at RCAP Solutions, which furthered her ability to finance the purchase and was connected to low-interest mortgage programs and down-payment assistance options.

Tania graduated from the FSS Program in August 2021 and is now a proud homeowner with over $15,000 in savings which she accrued during her 5 years in the program.

As for others considering enrolling in this program and becoming more financially independent, Tania says, “Anything is possible if you give it your all. If you put in the effort, everything will fall into place, and it will all get accomplished”.

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

Testimonial – Borough of Midland, Pennsylvania

Check out this testimonial from the Borough of Midland, Pennsylvania!

Our team in the Keystone State has been working this community to improve their water and sewer infrastructure through GIS mapping, application assistance for funding programs, and more.

Midland is a small, rural community located on the edge of western Pennsylvania. A former manufacturing giant, the borough has been attempting to drive small businesses back to the area in the wake of their steel mill’s closure, which once played a major part in Midland’s economy and workforce.

The consultant for the authority, Brigid Darbut, has been working with RCAP Solutions as well as several other community organizations and leaders to introduce revitalization efforts in the town, not only through improved water infrastructure, but through economic development, shared services, and more.

RCAP Solutions Has Earned a GuideStar Gold Seal of Transparency

We have earned a 2021 GuideStar Gold Seal of Transparency! Learn more about our organization through our nonprofit profile, here.

By sharing our impact, strategies, and financials, we aim to be transparent about our efforts to support the power and potential of communities.

Juncos’ Landfill Repairs and Expansion After Hurricane Maria

Written By: Edwin Vázquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist

Juncos municipality is in the eastern central region of Puerto Rico. Juncos’ landfill receives approximately 35,105 tons of non-hazardous solid waste each year. In 2017, winds from Hurricane Maria destroyed the facility’s leachate collection system, creating a serious health and safety hazard for neighboring communities and was at risk of contaminating underground water resources and nearby streams. The storm’s effects also reduced the landfill’s capacity by 20% and severely reduced its predicted lifespan.

The main challenge was to define the project and determine how the municipality could finance the necessary repairs that were imperative to address this problem. Our goal was to protect the community’s health, assist them in achieving compliance, and support the transition of the facility into a sanitary landfill system. In addition, the community also needed to account for the capacity overflow due to the extraordinary amount of debris which the landfill received in the aftermath of the disaster.

The RCAP Solutions staff served as a fundamental liaison between the municipality, stakeholders, and USDA Rural Development as we assisted the municipality in achieving compliance. Our technical assistance provider coordinated and conducted a training about disaster assistance grant funding and guided them throughout the process, outlining key elements to completing a successful application for USDA funds.

USDA Rural Development awarded Juncos’ Municipality with $23.7 million in grant funding to repair its landfill facilities. The facilities will be expanded to achieve compliance, and in addition, the community’s health will no longer be at risk due to the damage caused by the hurricane.

Community Foundation Awards RCAP Solutions $5,000 to Implement Loan Management System

RCAP Solutions has been awarded a $5,000 Organizational Development Grant from The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. This funding will be used to implement a loan management software system and supplement our current financial programs.

Over the next year, we will pursue opportunities to enhance our lending services and aim to establish a revolving loan fund, supporting the Private Well Program to Protect Public Health, an initiative backed by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.

There are currently no affordable financing options for homeowners needing repairs or maintenance on their private wells, preventing harmful contaminants from entering household water supplies. These funds will establish a baseline as we explore innovative solutions to combat these issues.

Five-Year Coral Bay Watershed Management Plan Released

The Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), a non-profit organization which helps communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands with environmental issues, recently released their 2021 Watershed Management Plan, a detailed 5-year outline for the future management of their stormwater and drinking water supply.

The plan is the result of over two years of work by Watershed Consulting Associates, CBCC, local residents, government agencies, and various other community development organizations.

In the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents of Coral Bay will benefit from this plan, which incorporates professional analysis and stakeholder input to create a shared vision to address threats to water quality in and around the area.

The full plan can be viewed bewlow or at www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org, along with an accompanying shorter, “Community Handbook” version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out CBCC’s press release, here.

RCAP Solutions is a long-time collaborator of CBCC. In addition to contributions made to support this plan, our team in the Caribbean has a extensive history of partnering with the council to provide vital education to industry professionals as well as residents surrounding drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste management.

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.

Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail

By Kathy Rodgers, State Lead Maine

Providing Assistance with No Back-Up Plan Puts Everyone at Risk.

Emphasis must be placed on ensuring staff are cross-trained and appropriate documentation is available for continuity in operations.

A town manager in Maine, who found himself suddenly in charge of a small community water system, had quite the harrowing experience recently. Unfortunately, this avoidable story is not uncommon.  The small town’s water operator had suddenly taken ill and was hospitalized.  The back-up operator had passed away six months ago.  The community was quite remote, and the town manager was in desperate need of an operator who could help keep their two treatment plants operational.  The system had several treatment phases including pre-chlorination, filtration, aeration, and fluoridation that needed to be monitored and maintained.  After several days and several frantic calls later, they were connected to a licensed contract operator who was willing to drive two hours to investigate the situation.

Upon arrival, the contract operator was greeted by a very green public works employee who was set to be cross trained in the water department but had no working knowledge of the plants.  The public works employee confessed the regular operator, now hospitalized, had told him that all the information was “all up here” as he pointed to his temple.  It seemed the hospitalized operator had always felt his job was threatened and closely guarded operational information. That fear, which is often shared by undervalued operators, is unfortunate as it created a stressful situation for everyone left in his wake.

By the end of day one, the contract operator and the public works employee were able to determine where the maintenance logs and the test kits were located.  The seasoned contract operator was successfully able to show the public works employee how to run the daily test and record the meter readings.  Then the contract operator began searching for the operation and maintenance (O&M) manual or any standard operating procedures (SOPs), to figure out how the system worked, but to no avail.  There were no clear procedures found to follow to ensure the system was running properly.   Under stacks of unfiled paperwork, the contract operator was able to find an emergency response plan that hadn’t been updated in 18 years, which is recommended to be updated annually, but it was with very little detail and of little help.  With the assistance of contract operator’s administrative office, they were able to piece together clues as to how the facilities operated through state records and other pieces of information.

The alarms started sounding by day two.  Not that anyone really knew that alarms were sounding, as the hospitalized operator was the only one getting the notifications.  It was upon arrival to the plant that the public work employee observed the chlorine tank had run dry.  The proper ratio to prepare the chlorine solution was unknown.  The fluoride pump appeared to be unplugged.  Who knows why?  The public works employee was untrained in how to properly handle these dangerous chemicals. The contract operator stepped in again to help batch the chemicals and get the chemical feeds pumping.  The contract operator best recourse and advice was to encourage the town manager and the public works employee to reach out to their regular operator, while in the hospital, to get guidance.   Not an ideal situation for anyone.

This emergency could have all been avoided and continuity in service could have easily been maintained by having an O&M manual readily available.  The O&M manual serves not only as a tool for the operating and maintenance of the facilities for the personnel of the plant; but it also serves as road map for those who must step in when the primary operations’ crew is unavailable.   For the manual to be effective, vital information must be easy to find, quickly and efficiently.  The O&M manual is designed to give treatment system personnel and the back-up operator the proper understanding of techniques and references protocols necessary to efficiently operate their facilities.   Having an O&M manual which includes well written SOPs, and an emergency response plan will ensure that operations will be able continue in a situation when new or temporary staff must be trained quickly.

Moving forward the contract operator has been retained as the town’s back-up operator. His crew has already begun planning to assist with development of a functional O&M manual to eliminate this situation in the future.  The grateful town manager is now keenly aware of the need to document and to have a back-up plan in place.

When developing an O&M manual ask yourself:

  • What do I do on a daily and weekly basis to maintain my water or wastewater treatment system?
  • Do these activities or pieces of equipment that need maintenance involve SOPs, manufacturer’s specifications, or record keeping logs?
  • Do I have the right tools?
  • What documents or logs do I need to develop?

“Thank you so much for the help you guys have provided. You have been wonderful to work with. We will certainly be in touch.” – Town Manager of a Little Town, Anywhere, USA