For more than 40 years, Sandhills Community Action Program (SCAP) has been helping people in Anson, Richmond, Moore and Montgomery counties help themselves out of poverty and live self-sufficient lives.
SCAP is a nonprofit organization operating through a Community Service Block Grant (CSBG). It is funded by the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services, and administrated by the N.C. Office of Economic Development.
Karen Ray-Thomas is the program coordinator, while Peggy Baucom is the case manager for Anson County.
“SCAP is geared toward promoting ideas and opportunities to help individuals that are living below poverty standards,” Thomas explained. “Even though our economy is recovering a little bit, unemployment is still above 8 percent, and people are still struggling.”
Baucom works with clients in Anson County who are in poverty or unemployed and helps them to become self-sufficient. “We help these individuals create goals,” Thomas said. “I think we’re all starting to recognize that you’ve got to have some sort of skill to survive. There is not a lot of industry here, like there once was.”
For example, Thomas said, there are currently a group of young women in the program who are pursuing nursing assistant degrees. “We have been able to help them get their state certifications,” Thomas said. “Once they get their certifications, they can come back here and the case manager will work with them to help revamp their resume. We also do role-playing to help them prepare for job interviews.”
Baucom said she enrolled 25 participants in the program last year. “We help them to exceed,” Thomas said. “They come in to the program below poverty, and we help them to exceed poverty guidelines.”
In addition to helping people of all ages learn job skills, SCAP is focusing on entrepreneurship this fiscal year. “Why not take those skill sets you’ve learned and work on being your own boss?” Thomas said. “You can enroll in our program and learn to write your own business plan. We have one young man in Anson whose goal is to own his own chef business. And he’s well on his way to doing that.”
Baucom’s phone “rings constantly” with people who are eager to be part of the program. “When it’s their goals, they will do everything possible to achieve those goals,” Thomas pointed out.
Once men and women graduate from the self-sufficiency program and are working good jobs, Thomas said, there are other programs they can participate in. “If you graduate self-sufficiency, you can go to the Section 8 program and learn how to get into safe housing,” she explained. “We have worked with you on budgeting so you’re ready. We don’t want individuals to get too comfortable with Section 8.”
The next program is five years long, and teaches participants how to move beyond Section 8 and own their own homes. “In a five-year period, our goal is to get you off food stamps, off Medicaid because hopefully you’re in a job with healthcare benefits, and have money earned in escrow that you can then use to purchase a house,” Thomas said.
“Our motto is that the sky is the limit,” she added. “Why not be a part of a program where the sky is the limit?”
SCAP also offers transitional housing for women and children that are homeless. “We provide housing for up to two years,” Thomas said. “We have a case manager that provides support 24 hours a day. When you’re homeless, we work with you more individually. We provide parental support, parental classes. … We work with the parent so that she’s not only financially stable, but also emotionally and physically stable.”
Once participants graduate from the transitional housing program, they’re sent on to the self-sufficiency program, and then on to the other levels.
SCAP is run by an administrative staff and 15-member board. The board is tripartite, made up of representatives from the private sector, low-income sector and public sector. Anson’s representatives on the SCAP board are Alex Gaddy, Leon Gatewood and Thomasina Spencer.
Those interested in any of SCAP’s programs can visit the office at 126 W. Wade St., Wadesboro, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call 704-994-2306.