Cairo, IL | Alexander County
This economically depressed town, where over 44% of the total population and 72% of the town’s children live in poverty, is at the very tip of Southern Illinois with few social service agencies or resources. While working with this group, the ICCS Community Organizer learned that one of the primary concerns of the citizens of Cairo was the exceedingly high utility bills they had been paying since the city-owned utility company was leased to private investors. After the lease agreement was signed, utility costs for residential customers soared with some bills for residential service as high as $700 per month. Residents stated that they did not know how they could continue to pay the enormous utility bills and still pay food, clothing and housing expenses. ICCS helped organize residents and aided in the formation of the Citizens for Utility Rate Reduction and Enforcement (CURRE). ICCS assisted CURRE’s concerned citizens to meet with their State Senator and Representative. ICCS staff approached the State Attorney General to review the situation. Soon after, the Mayor of Cairo announced that the City Attorney was looking at ways to break or amend the lease agreement, the State Senator representing Cairo announced that he was in conversation with a public utility who might purchase the facility, and the Attorney General announced an investigation into possible legal challenges to the present utility’s pricing practices. The process resulted in lowered monthly utility charges and relief for this worthy community.
Brooklyn, IL | St. Clair County
When ICCS got involved in this small town of just 676 residents, the poverty rate was 48.5% and more than half of the town’s children lived at or below the federal poverty level. ICCS has worked with this community on and off for many years since getting involved. In 2006, the mayor asked us to help organize a group of volunteers to prioritize and address needs in the community. This group is now known as the Brooklyn Community Resource Committee, a 501 (c) 3 organization and the group has had many successes in the past several years. It has reopened the Brooklyn Community Center, which became home to after school, weekend and summer activities for children, teens, and adults. With computers donated by National City Bank, the group offers computer classes for teens and adults, resume assistance for unemployed residents, and access to the Internet for residents.
Bureau and Putnam Counties
Community Partners Against Substance Abuse (CPASA) is a committee made up of clergy, educators, parents, and students focused on stopping the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco by teens. ICCS has worked with this group on community engagement, volunteer recruitment and training, revenue development, and program planning and evaluation. This group has arranged for a performing arts troupe MWAH, (Messages Which Are Hopeful), to visit junior and senior high schools. Members have presented workshops on the dangers of alcohol, meth and other drugs, including the abuse of prescription drugs by teens. CPASA has received an Anti-Meth grant from Illinois Public Safety Partnership.
Colchester, IL | McDonough County
Colchester, a town of 1,400 residents, working with ICCS recognized a need for a community playground. ICCS got involved to secure a grant for $40,000 of the $50,000 needed for the site development and equipment. With funding in hand, 40 local volunteers installed the first round of the playground, an area for children 5 to 12 years old. Later, the community and ICCS secured local funding to expand the project to include areas for organized sports.
Springfield, IL | Sangamon County
To help alleviate the heartbreaking problem of childhood hunger, ICCS began a backpack meal program at St. Patrick’s Catholic School in January 2016. The student body is 100% eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. However, when school is not in session, many of these children will face hunger at home. With generous donations from St. Johns Hospital, Memorial Medical Center and local businesses, ICCS is able to provide nutritious, easy-to-prepare snacks and meals each Friday for the children to take home.