Community Services Consortium

Serving Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties in Oregon. Helping people. Changing lives.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Helping People and Changing Lives for 50 Years – the Promise of Community Action

On August 20, 1964 in Washington, DC, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA). The EOA created a variety of programs—including Community Action Agencies—as part of his War on Poverty. This year, community action agencies across the country will commemorate the 50th anniversary of community action, including Community Services Consortium (CSC), the community action agency for Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties.

Why are community action agencies different from other social services agencies? Because their funding allows the flexibility to design programs addressing the specific needs of the communities in which they operate, and to implement comprehensive solutions to meet local needs.

In the Linn, Benton, and Lincoln county areas, CSC, established in 1980, helps residents to secure affordable housing, assists with rental and utility payments, provides home weatherization, and gathers and distributes more than 5 million pounds of nutritious food per year through the Linn Benton Food Share program.

CSC also paves the road to prosperity through education and job training. Head Start in Lincoln County provides a free preschool education to children ages three to five years, and youth programs such as YouthBuild, the CSC Youth Garden, and the Natural Resource Conservation Crews give at-risk young adults the support they need to complete their educations while providing valuable work training and experience.

Finally, CSC helps adults with job search assistance and even administers a scholarship program that enables adults to train in high-need industries like healthcare. The scholarship program was life-changing for Heidi, a recipient that used the program to get her CNA certification, and also for one of her patients.

“I was working as a CNA last summer and one of my patients, who was in hospice, was unable to afford the care she needed. I was able to work for her at a reduced rate because my spring term tuition, fees, and supplies were paid for by the CSC scholarship. I saved enough money that my budget allowed me to help out my patient.” said Heidi.

“CSC’s track record in Linn, Benton, and Lincoln county highlights the positive impact we’ve had helping our neighbors through a variety of financial and personal challenges,” said Martha Lyon, CSC’s Executive Director. “We help tens of thousands of individuals each year change their lives with a variety of programs, like the 31,500 people receiving utility assistance, 9,000 adults receiving job assistance, and the recipients of the 51,319 food boxes we distributed through Linn Benton Food Share last year. Our success stories underscore our ability to achieve measurable results.”

Royce Markley would agree with Lyon’s statement. Royce, a 20-year old from Benton County, was in foster care or living with people outside his biological family for most of his life. Before receiving a job at the CSC Youth Garden, he was a high school student struggling to find a steady job in the seasons when he wasn’t playing basketball.

“I was told about the opportunity to apply for the CSC Youth Garden crew by my Independent Living worker, and it was one of the greatest opportunities I have ever had. Working in the gardens gave me an opportunity to gain experience working a steady job in a helpful and educational environment. I practiced skills such as working a cashier, communication and of course learned a lot about gardening.” said Markley. 

Markley credits his experience at the Youth Garden, as well as his participation in the CSC Independent Living Program for foster youth, with giving him the confidence and skills for success. Markley became a FosterClub All-Star, which is an internship that picks twenty foster youth out of the five hundred or more that apply. During the internship, he worked in the office and traveled around the United States presenting workshops and providing leadership at conferences for foster youth. Markley is currently enrolled at Linn Benton Community College.

 “In the last fifty years, Community Action has been extremely successful helping people achieve and maintain economic security despite experiencing budget cuts, shrinking resources, and increased
demands for services during challenging economic times,” said Don Mathis, President and CEO of
the Community Action Partnership national office. “We understand our residents’ unique needs, and
have developed programs that will best serve them and their families.”

To support CSC’s poverty-fighting programs and services, visit our website at Donations may be made through our website or mailed to our main office: Community Services Consortium, 245 Broadalbin Street, Suite 2A, Albany, OR 97321.

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