Nonprofit News

Q&A Time | Community Concepts Celebrates Their 50th Anniversary

CCI Celebrates Their 50th AnnivesaryOur customer Community Concepts › is celebrating their 50th year serving those in need. This is a remarkable accomplishment and one that deserves to be celebrated. Soft Trac recently asked them a few questions about their organization and their success providing much needed services to their client base. Please take a moment to read their responses below to learn more about this wonderful agency.

The mission of CCI is to “Provide leadership, education and support to build thriving individuals, families and communities.” Has your mission changed or evolved over the years?

It definitely has.

We recently changed it to the current version you see here, and it will be undergoing more changes as we move forward with the times as an agency. The mission needs to reflect the current and upcoming goals of the agency accurately and concisely.

The Board, Executive Team and Directors of the agency are presently revisiting CCI’s strategic direction to help dictate the Strategic Plan, which of course will affect our mission statement once again!

How have the programs and services you provide changed?

Programs are adapted and added as the needs in the communities we serve change. As we discover service gaps and identify new needs, we try to address them in the most effective way possible. As needs subside for certain programs, they are replaced with programs that target new or emerging community needs. We have an ongoing assessment of all current programs for their effectiveness and demand, and always have an eye open to the emerging needs of the community.

What remains the greatest program need(s)?

To date our biggest program that is utilized by our communities is the Low income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP) which helps low income individuals and families by subsidizing heating bills.

In the future we hope to create more programs help to move customers out of poverty and into self-sufficiency, which is the ultimate goal of any consumer action program (CAP) agency and where we see a great need.

It is important that the agency does not just put a Band-Aid on the problem of poverty, but instead addresses the situation at its core and helps individuals to achieve self-sufficiency.

Does your target population in Maine lend itself to any unique challenges?

Our target population is a diverse mix of individuals and families and because of this dissimilarity, no one program can operate the same way for all.

For example, we have a Somalian population here in Lewiston-Auburn and the language barrier is a factor we need to address on a daily basis.

Maine also has an aging population and the elderly may soon represent the greatest percentage of the residents of Maine that will need our services. With this growing population a new set of needs may be discovered!

It is easy to see why it is important to stay abreast of the changing communities we serve!

Do you have any predictions of changes to programs and services in the next few years?

We don’t see any major changes, but do anticipate making a few structural changes to better equip the agency to meet the community’s needs.

With the onboarding of a new CEO in the fall and the strategic plan still being formulated, it is difficult to say what those changes will be. What we do know is that there is a need internally to restructure to allow for program changes to occur seamlessly as the need dictates. The new CEO will be introduced to the community and will take part in an assessment of current community needs. The community needs assessment will guide our future program structure.

What impact has technology had on your organization’s programs and operations?

Overall, technology has been a good thing!

Computers have allowed us to serve more people and keep records that can be easily accessed. With the advent of the internet and mobile technology, many qualifying individuals have ready access to information about our services and have the ability to apply for these services without even having to leave their homes. As transportation can sometimes be an issue, online access to program information has been very helpful.

CCI plans to develop a new data system in the coming year(s) to create a cross-functional information management system that supports a secure, effective and efficient service for internal staff and external customers.

This is much different than the days of paper filing!

What opportunities for engagement are given to local residents and businesses to further the mission of CCI?

CCI attempts to engage with community leaders and residents on an ongoing and consistent basis. Within the last few years we have begun to reach out to the community on Facebook and Twitter, and with a monthly e-newsletter that currently reaches 2500 people. All online sources promote events, volunteerism, and feature testimonials and stories of those who have been helped.

We recently had a young 10 year old boy reach out to us and donate his birthday money to our Big Brothers Big Sisters program for matching mentors to children. His generosity touched a lot of hearts and promoted even more goodwill!

How has funding for your mission changed since 1965?

It is no secret that Federal funding has taken a hit throughout the years. What used to be a given for funding is now always in question. Community Concepts as an agency understands these changes and has begun addressing them by creating a Resource Development department. This month we hired a new Grant Writer to assist our Resource Development Coordinator with raising funds for the agency. We may hire a Director for the department in 2016, but this is contingent upon the fundraising knowledge of our new CEO.

How have the staffing requirements for CCI evolved?

Staffing requirements evolve as our mission and programs do.

The most important requirement that our employees must have is passion. It is critical that we believe in what we do, so it is this trait that we look for first and foremost. Obviously staffing needs change as we discover new community program objectives.

We are a tight knit group and support each other throughout departments, that has NEVER changed!

What do you think is the biggest reason that Community Concepts has been around for 50 years?

Because of the need to help people move out of poverty, the need to help communities grow stronger, and the passion we bring to that work. We believe in what we do! Ask anyone and they will tell you that there is something unique about working at a job that allows you to help others on a daily basis. The reward of this work extends well beyond a paycheck.

Although we love our work, the ultimate goal is to work our way out of the job because that would mean the issues of poverty had all been solved . Until that day comes, we will be here continuing the work we do to help people, families and communities move closer to that goal.

The need for helping people move out of poverty may never go away. And we will continue to be here to help.

Will you be doing anything specific to celebrate the milestone this year?

We have a committee currently planning something fun for our 50th anniversary celebration.

Stay tuned…more to come!

What is the most important thing you wish everyone knew about CCI?

That we are truly an agency that cares. I’m sure it’s been said before, but it really is true.

As stated earlier, the people who work here are members of the communities we serve, so we are deeply vested. A large number of our employees have been with the agency for years and fully understand our communities’ needs and those who join our agency bring new passion and new ideas.

It is not unheard of that an employee remains with the agency for 30+ years!

Soft Trac wishes to extend their sincerest thanks to Community Concepts for providing essential services to those in need for the past 50 years. We are excited to see what the next 50 will bring.

Darla Hamlin, President at Soft Trac, also had this to say about the anniversary, "Soft Trac applauds Community Concepts for your past 50 years of service to your community. We believe that community volunteers is what exemplifies what is good about people. Thank you for your dedication to your important mission."

Soft Trac is a woman-owned business and accomplished team of nonprofit software consultants. We believe in making nonprofits "do good" better. For more information on any of the topics discussed in this blog or to learn more about the software products and services we offer, please CONTACT Soft Trac.

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