“Those who were involved responded concretely to help this one woman and her children,” recounts Christian Community Action Executive Director, Rev. Bonita Grubbs, “with clothing, with housing, with support, with food, with bedding, all of the things that one family would need.”
What grew out of this one act, helping a neighbor in need, is Christian Community Action (CCA), an ecumenical social service organization, which continues this work today, albeit on a much bigger scale.
“That’s 48 years of helping,” says Grubbs. “Almost every day I hear about someone who has received support from us.”
|Christian Community Action's ARISE center is located on Davenport Avenue in the Hill section of New Haven. Photo courtesy of Christian Community Action.
A food pantry, emergency shelter, a transitional housing program, work skills programs, advocacy and children’s programs are just some of the services CCA provides the people of New Haven who are in need.
“To offer help, housing and hope” is CCA’s motto.
“Our job, in part, through the help and the housing. is to at least try to instill some hope, or provide a service in a hopeful way, that helps people to understand that just because they’re in that place of difficulty that they don’t have to stay there and that we’ll support them,” says Grubbs.
“That place of difficulty” may include unemployment, lack of or limited skills, alcohol, drugs, or mental illness.
"When you think you’ve seen everything, then you see one more thing,” Grubbs adds.
In April 2015, CCA expanded its services with the opening of Accessing Resources for Independence Skillbuilding and Employment (ARISE), a new center in the Hill Section of New Haven.
“The ultimate goal that we have for the ARISE Center is that we can indeed help families by going upstream,” Grubbs explains. “To identify what problems there are and to support them through that process and to try, to the extent that we can, to prevent homelessness.”
This center, on Davenport Avenue, employs a director of social work services, a child and family specialist, and an employment services specialist.
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has been supporting CCA since 1974. In 2014, a $40,000 grant supported the costs of staff and consultants to develop and execute a program model and implementation schedule for the ARISE Center. This grant was awarded on a 1:1 matching basis.
In 2015 a multi-year grant totaling $105,000 provided general operating support for food, shelter, housing, vocational training and advocacy programming. The grant was made possible through unrestricted funds and the Caroline Silverthau Fund at The Community Foundation.
While the ARISE Center model is developing, the hope is that it will expand beyond helping people in the shelter to helping other neighborhood residents.
“Part of our task these days is to engage with people in a personal way and develop a degree of trust and to be able to help them and to support them as they get to the next level,” Grubbs says.
“My interest, really, at the end of the day, is that there would be fewer people who need us because their needs have been met.”
Did You Know?
In October 2015 Connecticut became only one of four states to participate in the national Zero: 2016 initiative to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.
Source: Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness