Action has received a total of nearly $9 million in stimulus funds, much of which was for weatherization assistance. The remainder -- nearly $500K -- was funds from the Community Services Block Grant and they enabled Action to further extend its supportive reach by opening an office in Ipswich. Recently, Jeffrey Simon, director of the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, and members of his office, paid a visit to the town to see the impact this stimulus-funded program is having on its people.
The first stop was a home in Ipswich that was receiving weatherization assistance through Action. John Call, the contractor on the project, estimated that after the project was completed, the family would realize energy savings of as much as 50
"We're happy to have the stimulus money," Call said. "We're happy to be working."
Simon's next stop was the new Action office where each member of the assembled crowd was eager to tell him how stimulus impacted their lives.
Jen Walker is one of White's clients. While she needed Action's help - she has two young children both of whom have special needs and she was living at the time with her mother - she couldn't get out to Gloucester to talk to someone there. When the Ipswich office opened, she was able to request housing and is currently living in an apartment. "It made a huge impact, being able to have our own home," she said. "It's opened up my life." Walker is also attending Action's
Tim Riley, executive director of Action, told Simon that the stimulus funds provided Action with the opportunity to do things it needed to do, but couldn't. They can now reach out to the large Brazilian and Portuguese communities in the area and provide services like English for Speakers of Other Languages classes. (In the first class, 65 people showed up, he said.) They could hire a substance abuse counselor at the homeless shelter, they could hire additional advocates, they could offer additional classes like the financial literacy class Walker attended, computer literacy classes and even a citizenship class, which has eight
For Amber Hammett, Action's move to Ipswich couldn't happen at a better time. She told Simon that she is a single mother who was laid off at the end of last year when her family's plumbing business closed. Through the Ipswich office of Action, Hammett got into a Medical Assistant training program whose tuition was funded through a stimulus grant. "This has opened up a door to so many opportunities," she said. But what's more, she told Simon, "My son hated homework but now he sees Mommy doing homework and he's excited. We sit down and we do it together. He tells me he's proud of me."