‘Twas Mid December at RCAP Solutions

‘Twas Mid December at RCAP Solutions…

Click here to watch our holiday video!

‘Twas Mid-December and all through the skies,
RCAP teams with care and wise.
In every office, staff worked with glee,
Offering essential aid, as busy as can be.

The needy many, deserving of cheer,
In this season of giving, their hopes draw near.
For when the demand rises, so great and so clear,
RCAP’s dedication shines, year after year.

In our Housing Consumer Education Center,
We make sure every client has a supportive mentor,
To assist in all aspects of home ownership and leasing,
In case you should see a problem increasing,
If a concern should arise, there’s lending or training,
Should you find your bank account suddenly draining.

With Subsidized Housing, we help pay the rent,
Offering programs for both landlord and tenant.
Everyone deserves a safe home and a bed,
Where each family member can rest their head.
We can also assist with housing mobility,
And case management for economic stability.

Our Housing for Seniors and the Mobility Impaired,
Offers features and services that can’t be compared.
Our professional staff is supportive and giving,
With countless services for independent living.
For those who reside in RCAP’s great care,
Our teams will provide for ALL who live there.

Our Environmental Crew work with communities to ensure,
The water that pours from the tap is pure.
From Maine to Pennsylvania, we offer technical assistance,
For those in rural regions, we’ll travel the distance.
Whether it’s wastewater, mapping, training, and more,
We’ll assess your infrastructure, and help settle the score.

The Caribbean Team helps the islands with pollution,
Teaching about recycling, and solid waste solutions.
We offer disaster planning, and prepare for the future,
Should climate change impact your region and need suture.
Financial assistance for septic or well repair,
We’re here for our communities, never despair!

Here in Massachusetts, we’re Advocating for Change,
For private well homeowners, who may need a range,
Of regulations for education, testing, and support,
Should their water tests come up short,
And need repair to keep families in good health,
For every resident, across the Commonwealth.

Our Administrative Staff provides support to our programs,
IT keeps us online, and safely protected from scams.
Finance cuts checks and keeps the books in balance,
HR supports the organization, hiring people with talents.
Marketing ensures the public is in the know,
And Development guarantees that funding won’t slow.

In the Northeast our influence spreads, far and wide in stride,
In Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, forever shall we reside.
Fostering community’s power, potential, a bond we unify,
In this commitment, our focus and unity lie.

Nurturing strength, resilience, and confidence, our gift to bestow,
Supporting individuals, families, communities, helping them grow.

Timothy Grinham, RCAP Solutions Board Member

Timothy Grinham, a Commercial Banking and Lending Specialist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, joined the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors in July of 2022.

Headquartered in New York City, S&P Global is a world-wide leader providing financial services information. Tim works in their Market Intelligence division, working with financial institutions under $5 Billion in Total Assets on workflow automation and commercial prospecting.

Tim has a professional background in technology, banking, lending, real estate, and brings over 20 years of experience in finance, investment, and sales management to his role on the board. He has extensive knowledge of working with federal funding sources, financing, managing customer accounts and portfolios, developing business opportunities, customer service, and training.

When asked what he likes to do with his free time, Tim responds, “For me, it’s all about family time. I spend as much time as possible with my wife and my two daughters and am excited to be coaching my daughters in soccer and basketball.” In his spare time, he enjoys reading, catching up on current events, banking news and the stock market.

Tim was drawn to the banking profession almost by accident. “When I graduated in 2002, I walked into a large recession due to 9/11,” he stated. “There was not much activity going on in the job market, so I stumbled into the mortgage industry. It was a good opportunity with rates dropping and I was able to get into refinancing existing debt. I began the first part of my career in the residential market and later became involved in commercial banking.”

He had always wanted to pursue a career in technology, and in his current position, he is able to draw from his previous experience working with banks, credit unions, and smaller institutions, providing them with technological solutions for their information service needs.

Tim received his BA in Business Management from Johnson State College in Johnson, VT. His volunteer experience includes board membership with Worcester Community Housing Resources, the Town of Paxton Capital Improvements Committee, and as a mentor for SBA workshops and business incubation companies in and around MA.

When asked what Tim feels his greatest professional achievement is, he mentioned the impact that banking and commercial lending can have in the community. “We moved to the Worcester area in 2014,” he stated. “I was very excited to start a position lending with a bank located in downtown Worcester. Over the course of the next several years, I was able to be a part of the Worcester economy during a growth period. I take a lot of pride when traveling through Worcester and seeing the businesses that I worked with throughout my career and knowing that I had a small part in the positive impact on the area. I find it extremely rewarding to drive around the city with my family and say, ‘I worked on that building, or I or helped to finance those renovations.’”

He went on to say, “What I miss most about banking is the positive involvement in the community, which is what drew me to RCAP Solutions. I want to support the work the organization does in both the urban and rural areas of the region.”

Tim believes “it’s critically important to serve both markets, especially in these times of economic uncertainty, when there are factors outside of our control.” He went on to say, “RCAP is a great organization to be involved in. Because of the range of programs, we have an opportunity to serve many communities and a diverse client base.

As a relatively new board member, Tim considers his time volunteering with RCAP to be a positive experience. “I’ve learned a lot about the services RCAP offers,” he states. “When I came to the organization, I was familiar with the housing and lending services. Now that I have really gotten involved, I’m extremely impressed with how much the organization and staff accomplishes.” He has enjoyed getting to know the board members and employees. “I think the staff is incredible,” he remarked. “They work hard and do an excellent job. I have really appreciated learning more about the teams and their programs.”

Tim looks forward to completing the year-long strategic planning process that the organization is undergoing. “I anticipate that once we’re implementing it, we will see the positive impact that it has on both the organization and the clients that we work with.” He concluded by saying “It’s just been a great experience, and I look forward to continuing to see the organization do great work.”

Tim’s full bio can be found on our website.

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La Regla Revisada de Coliformes Totales tiene como fin el promover mayor atención a la operación, mantenimiento y cumplimiento del sistema de agua potable de tu comunidad, como medida para lograr mayor protección a la salud de sus usuarios. Este adiestramiento te ayudara a revisar y reforzar la práctica de realizar los muestreos bacteriológicos requeridos; interpretar los resultados e investigar que acciones debes tomar para corregir y volver a producir agua confiable, libre de coliformes.

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La operación, mantenimiento y cumplimiento de un sistema de agua potable comunitario será exitosa en la medida que su Junta Comunitaria sepa dirigir y unificar la comunidad. Es necesario seleccionar bien sus miembros y que cumplan con sus roles y responsabilidades. La comunidad completa es responsable de lograr que así sea. Presentaremos los puntos importantes para lograr ese objetivo.

A través de este adiestramiento conocerás los roles de cada miembro de la junta, la importancia del reglamento y procedimientos parlamentarios, sus aspectos legales y la ética que rige su manejo.

¡Es importante que cada comunidad adquiera las herramientas necesarias para el éxito!

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Presentaremos los conceptos básicos de la regla y como la implementación de la misma ha reducido el riesgo de exposición al plomo que puede causar daño al cerebro, los glóbulos rojos y los riñones, especialmente para los niños pequeños y las mujeres embarazadas. Repasaremos los conceptos de las revisiones a la regla y las mejoras propuestas. Veremos los nuevos niveles (Tiers) para los muestreos. Por último, se presentarán detalles para realizar el inventario de las líneas de servicio en comunidades pequeñas.

Tracey Weeden, MSW, LCSW/LICSW; RCAP Solutions Board of Directors, Vice Chair

Tracey Weeden is the Executive Director of Brockton Behavioral Health Facility at Boston Medical Center and joined the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors in January of 2021.

She has extensive experience in the healthcare and nonprofit arena, with a background in administration, behavioral health, and homelessness prevention. In her previous position as Chief Operating Officer for First Step of Sarasota, she focused on affordable behavioral health treatment and system of care optimization. She also has experience managing a private practice as a psychotherapist.

Tracey was drawn to social work because of her childhood experiences growing up in an urban environment. She remarked “there was a lot of violence, parentification, mental illness, and substance misuse. But amid the prevalence of trauma, there was also so much hope for a better way of life. At an early age I was interested in other people’s stories and potential. When I went to college, I did not know what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to break the cycle of oppression in the community I had grown up in. I majored in social work, and it just felt right. At an early age, I felt sensitive to others’ needs and seemed to be able to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Although I don’t make it a practice to disclose my experiences, oftentimes I deeply understand the barriers to quality of life clients experience.”

Tracey is a former employee of RCAP Solutions, where she was a member of the leadership team, as Director of Counseling and Homeless Services. “When I was at RCAP, I absolutely loved the work,” she commented. “Working at RCAP, I showed up 100% every day for the organization and our clients. They were long days, but it was all worth it. RCAP is deeply mission driven. RCAP’s services for people in need is undeniable. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a community, helping people where they are and supporting them as they move to a better place? RCAP’s work aligns with my values and everything I stand for as a social worker, a woman, and a woman of color.”

Tracey went on to say “RCAP’s work comes down to people helping people. This resonates with me and is what’s unique about RCAP. The employees genuinely want their clients to achieve a better quality of life. At RCAP we are paying it forward.”

Tracey feels strongly about being an active board member. “I want to be a real objective resource to the leadership team and a sounding board. I understand the culture and dynamics as a social worker and as a businesswoman.”

When talking about her experience serving on the board, Tracey exclaimed, “It’s been fun! I like the diverse expertise the volunteer team brings to the table. The board is open to looking at things differently and trying new ideas. This will determine the sustainability of the organization overall. The board is engaged, understands the impact of the work, and is realistic about what it takes to provide services. It’s very exciting to be a part of this energized board.”

When asked about her future goals for the organization, she replied, “I hope that a year from now we are in the process of implimenting a successful, operational, and people-driven strategic plan. I believe we can really put RCAP on the map as a leader in all aspects of community and environmental services.”

Tracey is a self-published author and has volunteered for the City of Worcester’s Human Rights Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s suicide prevention initiative. She is currently a Commissioner for the Massachusetts Status of Woman of Plymouth County. Tracey earned a MS in social work at Boston University and is working towards her Doctorate degree in Business Administration with a focus in Health Services Administration at Northcentral University. She brings a deep understanding of the programmatic, funding, and strategic needs of the organization, along with nonprofit leadership, fundraising and community outreach.

When asked about her personal and professional achievements, Tracey commented, “it was always a goal for me to do more of the work in helping others to grow and lift themselves out of traumatic environments. I’m proud of that. In this field of social work, there are not many Black People or Native Americans in leadership positions. I don’t see a lot of “me” represented and I will never take it for granted. I hope to be an example and to inspire others.”

In her free time, Tracey enjoys creating things. “I love candle making, jewelry making, upcycling furniture, gardening, and creating a new space in my yard or home. It helps me relax. Being creative helps me to think outside of the box overall. I enjoy focusing on the hobby and it’s extremely relaxing for me.”

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La operación adecuada de un sistema de agua potable marcará la diferencia en la calidad de agua que le sirven a sus comunidades y en el tiempo de vida de los componentes de su sistema. También podremos prevenir un mal manejo y/o violaciones a la reglamentación de agua potable siempre y cuando prevengamos algunos escenarios importantes que se discutirán durante este taller. Cubriremos diferentes tópicos que le ayudaran a mejorar la calidad de agua y la operación de su sistema. Entre ellos: protección de fuentes de agua, sistemas de distribución, calidad de agua, conexiones cruzadas, limpieza, desinfección y mantenimiento de su tanque de distribución, desinfección adecuada y certificaciones de la NSF para componentes y químicos del sistema de distribución.

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La Puerto Rico Water & Environment Association (PRW&EA), American Water Works Association (AWWA) en conjunto con Rural Community Assistant Partnership (RCAP Inc.) y RCAP Solutions, Inc., ofrecen este taller en línea, libre de costo y subvencionado por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (USEPA). El objetivo de este adies-tramiento es promover y asistir a los sistemas comunales de tratamiento de agua potable a cumplir con la regla-mentación federal y estatal.

Es un taller de dos días y va ayudar al personal a cargo de la operación, con el mantenimiento y la administración de los sistemas comunales pequeños, conocidos como los Non-PRASA. Los sistema de agua potable pequeños enfrentan múltiples retos para producir y distribuir agua potable, confiable y segura a todos los residentes de su comunidad. El mantener el sistema de tratamiento en cumplimiento promueve y mejora la salud pública, y ayuda a eliminar los problemas que conducen a posibles violaciones de ley de Agua Potable Segura (SDWA)

Repasarán y aprenderán de conceptos de cumplimiento de la reglamentación de agua potable; medidas para aumentar y mantener el cumplimiento con la reglamentación.

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La Puerto Rico Water & Environment Association (PRW&EA), American Water Works Association (AWWA) en conjunto con Rural Community Assistant Partnership (RCAP Inc.) y RCAP Solutions, Inc., ofrecen este taller en línea, libre de costo y subvencionado por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (USEPA). El objetivo de este adies-tramiento es promover y asistir a los sistemas comunales de tratamiento de agua potable a cumplir con la regla-mentación federal y estatal.

Es un taller de dos días y va ayudar al personal a cargo de la operación, con el mantenimiento y la administración de los sistemas comunales pequeños, conocidos como los Non-PRASA. Los sistema de agua potable pequeños enfrentan múltiples retos para producir y distribuir agua potable, confiable y segura a todos los residentes de su comunidad. El mantener el sistema de tratamiento en cumplimiento promueve y mejora la salud pública, y ayuda a eliminar los problemas que conducen a posibles violaciones de ley de Agua Potable Segura (SDWA)

Repasarán y aprenderán de conceptos de cumplimiento de la reglamentación de agua potable; medidas para aumentar y mantener el cumplimiento con la reglamentación.

RCAP Solutions’ 2022 Impact Report – A Year of Rejuvenation

2022 was a year marked by growth, development, and ultimately rejuvenation as RCAP Solutions began its rebound from a tumultuous and transformational time. View our 2022 Impact Report to learn more about last year’s accomplishments and check out stories from the people we serve!

We thank our partners and continued supporters and invite you to join us as we continue to work towards a collective vision of a world made up of strong and resilient communities and individuals, confident in their potential and with ownership of their success.

We look forward to a productive 2023 as we remain steadfast in our commitment to fulfilling our mission: To foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live.

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Esta reconocido tanto en Estados Unidos como en Puerto Rico que la infraestructura esta envejecida. Esto incluye carreteras, puentes, entre otros. También la infraestructura de los sistemas de agua y de alcantarillado.

En Puerto Rico en los sistemas de agua comunitarios gran parte de los componentes de su infraestructura de agua pudieran estar cerca de completar su vida útil o han excedido su vida útil estimada.

En los sistemas rurales los componentes son las tomas superficiales, pozos, tanques de distribución y las tuberías que transportan el agua, entre otros. El manejo responsable de los componentes de los sistemas de agua comunitarios es fundamental para mantener un nivel de servicio aceptable de agua que cumpla con los estándares de calidad establecidos.

Solid Waste Case Study: Municipality of Comerío, Puerto Rico’s Recycling Program Re-Opening, Facilities, and Permits

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

BACKGROUND: After the hit of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the high volume of debris and waste stressed the limited capacity of Comerío’s municipality to deal with it. They depend on a small Transfer Station (TS) for the management of the materials and waste to be disposed. A Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) with noticeable challenges was part of the strategy but it ends in the closing of the program in 2019, adding significant pressure to their TS and incrementing the cost of the operation running over its capacity. The process to reopen the MRF and reduce the waste, and the operational cost required an operator with technical knowledge about the materials but also, about facilities, development, and permits.

THE CHALLENGE: The new operator was established as a non-profit organization, different than the municipality, and should work on the existing facilities. New permits were required, and the regulators requested protocols for noise and contamination controls, and the information to support the actions to be taken. The operator’s limited capacity and the lack of information on the part of the regulators made this task difficult and the permit was denied.

THE APPROACH & SOLUTION: The RCAP TAP conducted a brief assessment of the MRF facilities and revised the regulation about the specific request. All the equipment specifications and facility areas were considered in the evaluation, including noise generation according to the industrial levels permitted. Sound levels were taken and recommendations to establish the necessary controls were discussed with the operator. The information required to satisfy the permits’ application was included, based on the regulations. The TAP consulted with the regulators and the application was submitted by the operator granting the permits that were previously denied.

THE IMPACT: This project is of great importance, since it is a model based on the expansion towards the circular economy of materials that are not currently processed in Puerto Rico. It is expected that this MRF will become a HUB for the processing of materials collected by other communities and municipalities. For the Municipality of Comerío, it is very important since it immediately reduced the cost of operating the TS, and the final disposal of materials that can be recovered from the waste stream. The RCAP TAP continues to provide guidelines and alternatives to improve the system, and coordinated a meeting with USDA to evaluate possible grant programs that could help in the development of the facilities.

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¿Es el agua de mi comunidad potable? ¿Cómo puedo saberlo? Es importante conocer la calidad del agua que tomamos diariamente. Para eso, es necesario realizar los muestreos requeridos por la Ley de Agua Potable Segura (SDWA), pero debemos saber interpretar esos resultados. De eso se trata este adiestramiento, conocer los contaminantes regulados por la ley y cada una de las partes de una hoja de resultados de muestreo de esos contaminantes.

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La regla de Notificaciones Publicas (PNR) por sus siglas en ingles conlleva una responsabilidad que recae en cada sistema de agua público de notificar a sus clientes sobre violaciones que excedan los niveles máximos de contaminantes (MCL), cambios en tratamiento, u omisión de toma de muestras entre u otros. Las condiciones que pudieran poner en riesgo la salud de sus clientes conllevan una obligación para notificarles y que estos sepan que medidas deben tomar para proteger su salud. En este taller estaremos brindando información sobre los requisitos de la notificación pública, brindaremos ejemplos y discutiremos cómo podemos mejorar nuestra operación cuando enfrentamos situaciones que pudieran poner en riesgo a la salud de sus clientes.

RCAP Solutions’ Caribbean Team Participates in USDA Rural Development Stakeholder Meeting with Secretary of Agriculture

Written By: Juan Campos Collazo, Community Specialist

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, hosted a discussion with stakeholders in Puerto Rico, including community groups and economic development officials, to discuss the importance and impact of the Rural Partners Network (RPN). The purpose of this conversation was to encourage further development of the community networks. Secretary Vilsack wanted to hear directly from stakeholders about the benefits, opportunities, and their hopes for the RPN in Puerto Rico.

Background: In April 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA launched the Rural Partners Network, an all-of-government program to help people living in rural areas access federal funding and resources to create thriving communities. The network is working in 36 rural and tribal community networks; three of those community networks will serve regions in Puerto Rico. These community networks were selected through a series of deliberations with state directors and teams from RPN states, and additional consultations with prospective community networks. Each of these networks will be supported by up to four full-time federal staff who live and work locally. These community liaisons help communities navigate federal programs, build relationships, identify community-driven solutions, and develop successful applications for funding.

Cohort I: The first RPN Cohort was announced in April 2022 and included the launch of community networks in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

Presently, participating community networks are selecting their initial projects and refining their long-term priorities (i.e., future projects); USDA will organize federal partners to support these initial projects in an effort to secure early wins on behalf of the network. Additionally, thirteen staff have been hired to support these community networks with the only outstanding positions being an additional liaison in Mississippi, Kentucky, and New Mexico, and supervisory positions in Mississippi, Georgia, and Kentucky. Every Cohort I state has some level of RPN staff in place that are engaging with networks to facilitate a community-driven vision.

Cohort II: The second RPN Cohort includes Wisconsin, West Virginia, Nevada, Puerto Rico, Alaska, and North Carolina. Secretary Vilsack announced the inclusion of Puerto Rico in November 2022, but did not announce the specific community networks in Puerto Rico (nor in Alaska) since the selection process was interrupted by recent natural disasters.

Secretary Vilsack wanted to know from each of the panelists about the kind of work we do and how it relates to the Rural Partners Network. RCAP Solutions staff explained that we are part of a national affiliate, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), providing rural communities with on-site technical assistance and training to help small, rural communities address their drinking water, wastewater, and other community development needs. In addition, RCAP Solutions staff elaborated on how we help these communities access dollars from state and federal agencies for necessary infrastructure upgrades and improvements. RCAP Solutions also acts as a liaison between these communities and USDA Rural Development funding programs in Puerto Rico. The technical assistance provided by RCAP Solutions to the communities is free of charge and is funded under the grants from the USDA , EPA, and HHS.

A question arose from the secretary about what we consider to problems in achieving economic development. The mayor of Coamo, Puerto Rico pointed out the decrease of population as one of the most relevant problems, because of the lack of professionals, the decrease of laborers, and the decrease of economic movement. The mayor of Villalba, Puerto Rico mentioned the lack of agriculture development in Puerto Rico as a problem, and noted a dependance on foreign imports.

RCAP Solutions expressed that not all the rural communities have the commitment to improve their capacity and our work depends on community collaboration to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.

Finally, the secretary advised to all the partners, especially the mayors, to first identify an economical driver and then write proposals based on it. He referenced the example from the mayor of Villalba, who identified the agriculture as an economical driver. The meeting ended with the thanks from Secretary Vilsack and from the USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, Maximiliano Tujillo.

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.

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