(Contest Nominee) THE ACTION CENTER Helps Build a Path from Crisis to Self Sufficiency

Citywide Banks Community OutreachTHE ACTION CENTER is one of seven local charities nominated in Citywide Banks’ Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place from March 1-14, 2013. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to vote for a nominee and enter prize drawings. Citywide Banks will donate $7,500 to nominated charities based on voting results.

The Action Center - Citywide Banks Charity Hand-Up ContestEveryone needs a little help at some point in their life to deal with a crisis (or two).  For some the crisis is small, like a divorce or a death in the family, and for others it’s a little larger like a job loss. And then there are those with severe problems like chronic homelessness and unemployment.

No matter where someone falls on the crisis continuum, The Action Center in Jefferson County can help with immediate basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, as well as longer-term assistance designed to provide a path to self-sufficiency.

It usually begins with their food bank (the largest one in Jefferson County), says Executive Director Mag Strittmatter– that’s often the point of entry to the Action Center. But most people who receive assistance from the Center must also meet with a caseworker who will help them beyond getting something to eat – someone who will figure out a plan to help them move through their crisis.

“That’s what makes us unique, especially on the emergency side, people have to come in and sit down and have a conversation so we’re not just giving them a bus ticket or a food slip… it has to be in the context of sitting down and talking with someone so that we can have an ongoing dialogue as they move through our programs,” explained Strittmatter

She says that by filling basic needs first, their clients leave the Center with “tangible stuff” so that they have a sense of security in the near term and can feel ok about taking those next steps.

And because their center is in a suburban area, their clients are mostly families, 40 percent of them being children.

The Action Center began, like many non-profits, as a grass roots organization formed by churches and other civic organizations that came to the same realization: members of their community needed help. It was founded in 1968 (originally called Jeffco Support Inc. and later the Jeffco Action Center) by Jefferson County Human Relations Council at the Applewood Valley United Methodist Church.  The organization provided basic needs such as clothing, furniture and food, to those who needed it.

It eventually became its own secular non-profit organization, but still maintains strong ties with community churches and other civic groups. “We continue to have great relationships with these groups because we all have similar and parallel missions,” explained Strittmatter.

Now, 45 years later, the organization has added numerous intervention services such as a Landlord Tenant Counseling Program, access to healthcare, transportation assistance, a 22-bed homeless shelter, utility assistance and employment services. Last year they distributed over $6 million of donated goods (food, clothing, personal care items, household goods, etc.) to over 28,000 people.

What also makes their organization unique is just how varied their clientele is, and how broad their services are. “We have a variety of people with different issues. Some come to us for a short period of time, some a little longer and for others we’re part of their survival mechanism,” explained Strittmatter.

As a very streamlined organization, they rely heavily on volunteers and financial assistance from the community. A recent audit found that 90% of their total budget goes into programming. Last year they had over 5,000 volunteers help them out either daily or for seasonal projects like Thanksgiving food distribution, the Santa Shop, or school supply distribution. Additionally, food drives are extremely important to them since they give out over 4 tons a food a day! Their biggest needs are peanut butter, jelly, canned meat, beans, dried dinners and macaroni and cheese.

A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would fund the vast and important efforts of their organization. “We are focused, frugal and thoughtful with the gifts that are donated to us,” said Strittmatter. “It would fund our organization and go directly toward the good of our community.”

For more information about The Action Center and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.TheActionCenterCo.org.

Vote to Give The Action Center a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned bank focused entirely on the Front Range, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with The Action Center. Through our Charity Hand-Up Charity Hand-Up Contest Contest, we are proud to spotlight the great work and ongoing needs of Denver/Boulder nonprofits. Based on the results of a 14-day vote on Facebook, the local community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win 1 of 10 prizes, including dinner for two at some of Denver’s top restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here. For more information about the contest please visit www.CitywideBanks.com/charity/.

How to Cast Your Vote – March 1 -14, 2013
The voting will take place at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to make sure they are logged into their personal Facebook account. If a user doesn’t have an account, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook account and it’s free. The online voting form will only be accessible for Citywide Banks Facebook Fans. To become a Fan, simply click on the “Like” button on top of any of the pages on Citywide’s Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Then, click on the link for the ”Charity Contest” tab to access the online voting page. Each Facebook account will be permitted one vote during the 14-day voting period.

Spread the Word about Voting for the Action Center
Tell your coworkers, friends, and family in Colorado to cast their vote for your favorite nonprofit. Use the sharing buttons above this article, on the Facebook voting page, or throughout Citywide Banks’ social media pages to help spread the word.

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