Circles offers Kenning new opportunities

July 31, 2009

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Tom Kenning took his new job as an AmeriCorps member for the Circles Initiative at the South Central Community Action Program to find a new avenue to help others.

For the past three years, Kenning has been a teacher at Portage High School in northwest Indiana, where he taught economics, government and U.S. History.

“It was great,” Kenning said. “I went into it looking to be someone who made a difference with kids and had a positive impact.”

But in thinking about his long career ahead, Tom couldn’t see spending all of it as a teacher. The 2006 Indiana University graduate may go back to teaching at some point, but he wants to gain other experiences as well.

With the Circles Initiative, Tom and another new AmeriCorps member Genese Parker will play a critical role as the Volunteer Coordinators for the program, which is part of a national campaign to eliminate poverty. Operating in several communities around the country, each Circles Initiative consists of families working to get out of poverty who are called Circles Leaders. These Circles Leaders are paired with financially stable Circles Allies who form supportive and befriending relationships with the Leaders.

Kenning and Parker will recruit new Circles Allies, as well as local people who provide child care and food that make weekly community meetings with the Leaders and Allies possible.

“I like it a lot,” Kenning said. “I’ve met a lot of really interesting people and everyone has their own story to tell about how they got here to want to be a part of this program. It’s great to be a part of this program and help out.”

Joining the Circles Initiative staff has also provided an added bonus for Tom – he’s enjoyed his return to Bloomington.

“I really like this town,” said Kenning, who grew up in Valparaiso. “The people in southern Indiana are so friendly and I like the culture here with the university.”

So welcome to Tom and Genese! We’ll soon have a story here about Genese, who has joined the Circles Initiative staff even more recently than Tom.

Papa John’s and Walmart donate fans

July 31, 2009

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UPDATE 7/31: SCCAP has received a second check of $371 from Papa Johns’ to purchase additional fans. This, along with an earlier donation of $465, brings the contribution from the local locations of this pizza chain to $836 for fans. Thanks so much for this generous donation!  


The South Central Community Action Program has 36 additional fans to provide to clients who are elderly, disabled or have children under five. These fans will be available thanks to the generosity of the local Papa John’s restaurants and Walmart.

Papa John’s got the ball rolling by holding a special night earlier this month when a portion of its proceeds were donated to SCCAP for fans. That generated a $465 donation to purchase fans.

Walmart helped out by giving our agency a 20 percent discount on those fans and by also donating an extra seven fans.

The fans will make the summer safer and more comfortable for those who receive them. They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to clients who have been served in other SCCAP programs. There is a limit of one fan per household.

Earlier this summer, SCCAP distributed 50 fans taht were donated by WRTV 6. We deeply appreciate the generosity of Papa John’s, Walmart and WRTV 6.

End near for Atlanta public housing projects

July 28, 2009 has a story about Atlanta soon becoming the first major U.S. city to eliminate all of its large public housing projects.

The demolition of large low-income public housing projects in cities across the county has been undertaken in an effort to reduce crime, dangerous living conditions and a cycle of poverty that many feel can be exacerbated by concentrating large numbers of low-income people together.

But as reports, “advocates of the poor worry that not enough subsidized homes remain, and thousands of families are being dumped out onto the street.”    

So what are your thoughts on the federal government’s initiatives to tear down large public housing projects and replace them, partially, with mixed-income projects and Section 8 vouchers?

See you at the Fair!

July 27, 2009

fairSCCAP staff will be out at the Monroe County Fair every evening this week, so please come and see us.

At our booth in the Commercial Building West, we’re distributing information about agency programs, but also just having some fun and getting to meet some new people in the community.

We have a wheel you can spin to possibly win a gas card, gift cards or candy. Stop by and give it a spin!

Get up to $4,500 for your gas guzzler

July 24, 2009

Here’s some information that could be useful for some people thinking about buying a new car — Car dealers across the country can start registering today for the new “cash to clunkers” program in which dealers will be able to take $3,500 or $4,500 off the price of a fuel-efficient car if you agree to junk a gas-guzzling car.

The new program, signed into law a month ago, is designed to protect the environment while helping the auto industry. The deal will be available until Nov. 1 or until $1 billion in funding is depleted.   

Here are details about this program forwarded to me by our ever-alert and helpful Beth Pankoski:

President Obama signed into law a program the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is calling the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), more commonly referred to at dealerships as “cash for clunkers”. This is a federal program that helps you purchase a new, more fuel efficient vehicle when you trade in a less fuel efficient vehicle.

While the CARS Act makes transactions on and after July 1 potentially eligible for credits under the CARS program, interested dealers and consumers may want to wait until all of the detailed issues that must be addressed in the implementing regulations are resolved and the final rule is issued. Issuance will occur around July 24.

You do not need a voucher and you are not required to sign up or enroll in this program. Participating new car dealers will apply a credit, reducing the price you pay at the time of your purchase or lease, provided the vehicle you buy or lease and the vehicle you trade in meet the program requirements. The dealer will then obtain reimbursement from the government.

The law requires dealers to be registered to participate in this program.  As dealers are registered, they will be listed on the following website: and click on “dealers”.  You can also contact dealers in your area to ask whether they plan to participate in the program.  The CARS Act requires that dealers be licensed by their respective state for the sale of new automobiles in order for them to participate in the program.

To see if your vehicle qualifies for this program, go to and follow the appropriate links.

Who doesn’t love a freebie?

July 23, 2009


For those who enjoy a free stuff as much as I do, you can get a freebie today at McAlister’s Deli at Eastland Plaza in Bloomington. McAlister’s has declared today, “Free Tea Day,” which means you can get a free 32-oz. sweet tea with no purchase necessary, one per customer.

That’s our money-saving, thirst-quenching tip of the day.

Minimum wage to rise to $7.25

July 23, 2009

Most people would say that it’s still won’t be enough to live on independently, especially in Bloomington, but it’s good news anyway that the minimum wage will be going up tomorrow.

As reported in the Indianapolis Star, the state’s minimum wage will increase from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour on Friday. It coincides with a 10.7-percent increase in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

This 70-cent increase is the third and last in the series from the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, the Herald-Times reported today. The minimum wage will now be $2.10 higher than it was in early 2007. Before that, the federal minimum wage had been stuck at $5.15 for an entire decade from 1997-2007.

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