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Tri County Community Action

Community Action Commission (CAC) was incorporated in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on April 12, 1966 as a private, nonprofit, anti-poverty planning agency serving Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties. It was in January 2014 that they began doing business as Tri County Community Action (TCCA) to better reflect their three-county service area, while refocusing upon their Promise to change lives and improve communities. To that end, their programs, staff, and services are centered around supporting families, strengthening communities, and eradicating poverty.


$25,000

Awarded

How will you sustain the project beyond expended grant money?

The grant funding provided allowed us to implement physical improvements to our agency’s parking lot, reception area, and security systems. Ongoing routine maintenance of these newly renovated spaces will be part of our normal comprehensive preventative maintenance procedures.

Exterior Improvements:
Because of this grant, all of the lines in our lot were repainted, and the accessible parking spot near our building was widened. We removed overgrown landscaping near our building and repurposed the space into a newly paved area that now has a bike rack, bench, and outdoor trash can installed. The left picture below shows the overgrown landscaping that was present when we started. The picture on the right is the final product, with the installation of bumpers to preserve the accessible spot, installation of a bench, bike rack, and outdoor trash can.

Interior Improvements:
This is how our reception area looked “before” your investment. Overall space was dark and ill-equipped for visitors. Because of this grant, we were able to remove a wall between the waiting area and a storage room. While this wall removal was more involved than we anticipated – we found that it contained the original exterior brick wall to the building which was nearly 12 inches thick, had windows, an electrical conduit running through it – it allowed us to completely reconfigure the waiting area space.

Security Improvements:
While we had hoped to make full security system upgrades, the removal of the wall ended up being more than the initially anticipated cost. As a result, we were only able to implement a few security improvements; but those improvements have made a big impact.
First, our exterior window clings. While adding some additional agency signage to the front of our building, these window clings are also a security feature. They allow those inside the building to see out unobstructed but block the view into the building.

Other Improvements:
What isn’t pictured are all of the “little things” that now occur, as a result of the grant. For example, we have created a small book-nook for kids. Children can now pick up a book to read and keep for themselves. Previously, we just didn’t have the space for this, despite knowing that many of the children who come to our offices don’t have books to read at home. The book nook is fully stocked with age-appropriate books little ones can take home.

How will you utilize what you learned?

I think we initially thought the impact wouldn’t be as great as it was. During the planning process, we kept saying, “we’re just removing a wall”, or “we’re just adding bike parking”. The reality of the project, however, is that every day, someone walks through our doors and immediately smiles because they notice the huge difference the renovations made. Every day someone is able to gain entry into our building because they can get out of their car in a wheelchair accessible parking spot. Every day, someone is able to safely secure their bike while they seek assistance. This project has reminded us of how the smallest touches and interactions can make the biggest differences.

If you were starting over what would you do differently?

The project took much longer than expected because we didn’t want to close our agency to walk-in guests. That meant the construction and renovation could only be done after hours, and forced us to deal with renovation processes for a longer period of time. For best use of everyone’s time and minimal disruptions, we would close the agency to walk-ins for a couple of days just to get the project done, instead of trying to work around it.

What was the problem the project solved?

We initially requested $50,000 which would have also allowed us to accomplish façade improvements to the exterior of our building and once again be the beacon for this distressed community. While we were not able to accomplish that part of the project, we feel that we made a significant Phase I impact.

Who does the project help?

The project impacts the individuals and families we serve every day, who come to our office and deserve to be received in a welcoming environment. It also serves the greater community, as we work beside the residents and businesses here to lift up the neighborhood as a whole. Finally, the project serves our staff, who are able to more effectively, safely, and efficiently work with the public every day.

What makes your solution unique?

The only way to accomplish the goal of this project was to literally remove a wall and do a significant renovation, while not disrupting normal business practices.

How did the project make a difference?

Today, our entire reception area feels welcoming, warm, and respects the dignity of everyone. Every day we receive comments from people appreciating the renovations that were made, and none of this would have been possible without the First Nonprofit Foundation’s support.

What were the benefits?

Guests are welcomed in a warm environment. Those needing accessible parking have it available. Those needing secure bike parking have it available.

  • What were the results? Significant improvements to the reception area and parking areas of the agency.
  • How were the results measured? Through physical improvements, before and after pictures.
  • How is the project sustainable? Yes.
  • Can the project be replicated? How so? Yes, this was a construction and renovation project.