Happy Community Action Month... Again!

For Community Action Month, we continue celebrating the work of our incredibly diverse network by hearing directly from one of our members. Jaimi Clifford, with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, took some of her precious time and shared a little bit about the comprehensive statewide CNA project that was recently undertaken in Maine. We hope you’ll enjoy learning about their work and are as inspired as we are here at NASCSP by the leadership they continue to display at the state and local level. Happy reading!

Community Action has become a unique system of resources working to address the effects of poverty through partnership and collaboration. This work allows individuals and families to discover their own abilities to organize their lives, to solve their own problems with dignity, and to build the strength to fulfill life needs. Community action is the lifeline from crisis to thriving, while allowing dignity and autonomy.

Despite the unique challenges of the past two years, the Maine state network decided to undertake and accomplish a one-of-a-kind statewide Community Needs Assessment (CNA). This work was initiated during the height of the pandemic and continued through this difficult and challenging time. The network agreed upon the importance of a comprehensive statewide CNA.  Initially there were concerns that requesting information and collaboration from community members might prove challenging due to the pandemic.  However, that was not the case.  The effort was met with a wealth of willing participants and a desire to share information. Maine’s first statewide needs assessment can be found at https://mecap.org/cna/.

From a personal perspective as a mother of multiples, I appreciate the needs and complexities facing families today and how challenging it can be to support the individual needs of each child under the same roof. I strive to bring that perspective forward in my job. I have been the CSBG State Coordinator since December of 2017, which feels like a blessing to have joined the Maine state network pre-pandemic. However, even though it felt like COVID shut down the world, it pushed us forward to accepting new work-life norms, allowing individuals to work where and when they are available and most needed.  We can all agree COVID had its negative effects, but I believe a silver lining exists and it will show that Community Action truly has the greatest impact in a community when it’s needed most.

~Jaimi Clifford~