Throughout the United States, there are over 1,000 community action agencies intended to provide services and opportunities for those with limited means to improve their quality of life. In North Central Arkansas, Ozark Opportunities, Inc., provides services in Baxter, Marion, Searcy, Boone, Newton and Van Buren counties.
One of the organization’s most well-known programs had been experiencing a delay. Ozark Opportunities Chief Executive Officer Toby Atkinson says they had to wait to begin the Winter Home Energy Assistance Program after the Arkansas Energy Office took on the program from the Office of Community Services.
The non-emergency winter assistance will be available starting Tuesday. Applications can be downloaded at ozarkopp.org or picked up at the outreach office locations.
In addition to the winter program, Ozark Opportunities offers a Summer Home Energy Assistance Program. Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of last year, nearly 2,900 households benefited from the programs, and over $671,000 were spent in client-direct payments to local utility providers to offset the costs of heating fuel and electricity between the winter and summer months.
Atkinson says there are a couple of ways to apply for home energy assistance.
Ozark Opportunities also focuses on childhood development in the operation of Head Start centers, early Head Start centers and ABC pre-kindergarten classrooms for income-eligible clients and families. Baxter County has five early Head Start and ABC locations, and Marion County has two Head Start locations.
Other programs assist with helping communities create safe water and sewer services, retired senior volunteer programs, elderly nutritional feeding programs, before and after school programs, a garden program, a family planning program, fans and blankets for the elderly and more. Atkinson says the organization prides itself on being family-oriented.
Nearly 95% of Ozark Opportunities’ funding is from the federal and state governments, and the other 5% is local and private. To learn more, go online to ozarkopp.org.
This month, Our Community Cares, sponsored by Pizza Hut, Farmers and Merchants Bank and KTLO, Classic Hits and The Boot, highlights the work of Ozark Opportunities, Inc. Learn more at ktlo.com/ourcommunitycares.
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