Even with a new name, the mission in Sampson County remains the same for Action Pathways.
The goal is to engage communities and empower individuals who need assistance, and several of the group’s officials recently spoke to the benefits received by low-income residents locally.
Formerly known as the Cumberland Community Action Program, Inc. (CCAP), Action Pathways has developed and operated successful community-based programs in southeastern North Carolina for 50 years.
Cynthia Wilson, chief executive officer for Action Pathways, said CCAP was re-branded as Action Pathways in July 2015.
“We wanted something that was more inclusive of the work we do in Sampson County,” Wilson said.
Action Pathways’ mission is to use those programs to promote the economic and social well-being of individuals, children, families and communities. The organization specifically targets the low-wealth population.
“Action Pathways Inc. has been an advocate for under-resourced individuals and families since 1965 and will continue to support the development of services that impact the low-wealth community,”
That includes tax preparation, financial literacy, job readiness training, parenting, child welfare and nutrition workshops, weatherization services and a slew of other programs.
Outreach such as Consumer Credit Counseling Services and the Client Services Block Grant/ASPIRE Self-Sufficiency Program assist individuals and families through intensive case management services, so that they can achieve their education and employment goals, ultimately creating a more socio-economically stable family.
“The purpose of that is to help people in humble situations come out of poverty,” Wilson remarked.
The Weatherization Program, Duke Helping Home Fund and Heating and Air Repair and Replacement Program creates homes that are more energy efficient, reducing occupant utility bills and providing a higher level of comfort.
“We weatherized 35 houses,” Wilson said, noting 2015 numbers.
In 2015, Action Pathways through Second Harvest Food Bank provided 391,578 meals with the assistance of 10 members agencies. The food bank provided nutrition assistance through direct services and a network of non-profit member agencies.
“We acquire food through a variety of different methods and then distribute it to food pantries. There are about a dozen or so food pantries within Sampson County that are members of our food bank,” said Wilson.
Ar-Nita Davis, CSBG/ASPIRE director, will oversee the program in Sampson County. Jodi Phelps, chief operating officer, was also present at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting as Wilson detailed the programs offered and the number of people helped. The group offered its funding application to the board for review. It is dependent on state and federal funds.
“We are going after this funding and want to be able to serve clients in Sampson County,” Wilson said.
She said Action Pathways has sought out people to assist throughout its many years. Many times, people will find them.
“We’ve had the weatherization program for a number of years, about a dozen, so there are various outlets we go to for outreach,” Wilson said. “We talk to people. The primary person who is located here is bilingual so we reach out to the Spanish-speaking population. With the food pantry, we work with some of the churches. And people find us, quite frankly. When people are in need, they find out what are some of the resources. We are one of the resources to the community and people find us.”
At the meeting, Commissioner Harry Parker expressed his hope that a neutral name would mean Sampson gets its fair share of assistance.
“We’re funded and directed to help a county based on people in poverty,” Wilson explained, “so we will spend more money in Cumberland County but that is because there are more people in poverty in Cumberland.”
To learn more, visit actionpathways.ngo.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.