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CAO hosts whirlwind events quarter

It’s been a whirlwind month at Community Action Organization of Scioto County (CAO), where Executive Director Steve Sturgill has championed his program directors, coordinators, and staff to welcome warmer weather with a deluge of events.

The first of the season was the Workforce Solutions and Community Development’s Community Baby Shower, which is an annual offering for expectant families. The organization welcomed 108 individuals and 42 mothers. They also had over 55 vendor booths and partners present with useful information and giveaways.  CAO and partners gave away a stroller, car seats, a highchair, books, diapers and wipes, a walker, and other general baby shower gifts.

“Nurse Navigators Sharon Otworth and Aurora Webb do an amazing job at activating our partners and getting them excited to meet with expectant families,” Program Director Luanne Valentine said. “They provided resources and educational opportunities, offered gifts that will make the parenting process easier, and gave the guests excitement about growing their families. This is such an important event, and we are proud to offer it.”

The same department then held two job fairs in the following weeks. The first was a community job fair with just under 30 businesses and partners represented, virtual reality career exploration, and a registration for additional career services for job seekers.

The following week, the department visited Portsmouth Junior High and High School, where the event was much more virtual reality focused, utilizing ten headsets nearly all day over the course of six hours. The group met with around 400 students. The group also had just under ten partners and businesses present to discuss their company or services.

At both events, CAO had information on career services, smoking and vaping cessation, and more.

“Job fairs continue to go strong in our workforce area, under the guidance of Crystal Keaton,” Valentine said. “The OMJ is the obvious one-stop-shop for these services, and people are going more digital as well, but it is still important for us to provide equitable services and reach as many people as possible. A classic job fair gives those people wanting face-to-face interactions an opportunity. Also, it doesn’t hurt that a job seeker can meet with many employers at once and expand their network.”

The events continued with tobacco cessation classes and presentations, with three being organized by staff in Valentine’s department, where over 110 were educated on various available resources.

Workforce Solutions and Community Development worked with WIC Coordinator Barb Gibson to plan the 2024 installment of the annual Hunger Summit. There were 17 partners with informational tables, a welcome from Sturgill, updates from various program coordinators and directors, community presenters on the local and state level, and more.

“Barb and I have been working on this event together for a while and it is a great way to communicate what we are doing in the community with its members, provide updates from partners, and examine the food deserts and inadequacies we may have across the county,” Valentine said. “Barb puts in a lot of hard work, and 2024 was as great as always. This information is important, and our team is great at communicating that at this event.”

Most recently, CAO’s Early Childhood programs welcomed 28 community partners to its annual Spring Fling, where over 300 children and families took part in an Easter egg hunt, photos with the Easter Bunny, dinner, family activities, educational resources, and books to take home. The event is important to Early Childhood, as it connects its resources and partners to the families that attend and community at large.

“We believe that parents are their child’s first teacher,” Early Childhood Director Sarah Sloan said. “Events like our Spring Fling engage and empower families to fill that role. It’s a fun, relaxed atmosphere that builds relationships throughout our community!”

Community Action has many more highlights ahead in 2024, as well as new programs and partnership announcements. For now, Sturgill says he is happy with how the year is starting off strong.

“Community Action is about activating the community, whether through our programming, events, partnerships, or other resources,” Sturgill said. “The quantity and quality of our events, in only the first quarter of the year, makes it evident that we are moving with forward momentum and have plenty of opportunities to serve the people our staff work hard to care for.”

Community Action Organization of Scioto County is a 501©3 non-profit serving southern Ohio, primarily Scioto County, in a wide capacity. Through dozens of programs across five major departments, Workforce Solutions and Community Development, Early Childhood, Social Services, Energy Solutions, and WIC, the agency assists community members in nearly every need someone may have. If there isn’t an in-house program to support a need, then they have a partner they can refer. The agency is “helping people, changing lives” at 433 Third Street, Portsmouth. To learn more, call 740.354.7541. or visit www.caosciotocounty.org.

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