Central Arkansas Development Council: ‘We don’t want to be the best kept secret in Southwest Arkansas’

The Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) is a nonprofit community action agency founded in 1965 that calls themselves a “local force in the War on Poverty.”

The CADC currently operates in 19 counties throughout Arkansas with its main office located in Benton, but it has been working in Hempstead and Nevada county since early 2019.

“We are an organization where if we can’t do it for you, then we will put you in contact with an organization that can,” Victoria Bradley, the Program Supervisor for Hempstead, Nevada, Colombia, Pike, Howard and Montgomery counties, said. “We have a lot of partnerships. We work tirelessly in the community making sure people know we’re here.”

Bradley, however, says that, despite them being in the area for two years now, not enough people know that they exist for help and services.

“We’re still trying to get the word out because it’s not there like it needs to be,” she said. “People keep telling us ‘we don’t know y’all there, we don’t know y’all there.’ Like, we don’t want to be the best kept secret in Southwest Arkansas.”

Bradley says that currently they are really hoping to expand their case management to rural communities in the area.

“Ever since I’ve come on board, I’ve noticed that the rural areas surrounding Hempstead County like Fulton, McNab, Blevins, McCaskill, Emmett, and Roston are not really receiving the services we provide so we really want to push it in those areas,” she said. “We want them to please come out and if they can’t get to us, they can contact us and we’ll make a location where we can meet in that community.”

The CADC provides many programs and services for Hempstead and Nevada County. They have the The Community Services Block Grant Program, which helps with goal development, strategic planing and identification of local resources. They have the The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program which provides people and their families with short term utility assistance. They have non-emergency medicaid transportation as well as The South Central Arkansas Transit (SCAT) transportation which keeps families connected to safe, reliable transportation. Lastly, they have the Weatherization Program which is designed to make homes more energy efficient and safe.

Nevada County also have services not offered in Hempstead County like quarterly commodities where USDA foods are distributed to families in need as well as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program which provides free tax preparation and electronic filling by certified and trained volunteers.

“We’ve also done the Emergency Food Drive in May where in Hempstead County we made 700 food boxes and in Nevada we did 300 boxes,” Bradley said. “These boxes are 50 to 60 pounds and worth over $100 per box. We do that twice a year. In this area we’ve helped families get clothing and we’re always paying light bills. When people are disconnecting utilities, we always make sure to help them get their utilities paid.”

Jeff Laden, the Family Community Enrichment Specialist for Hempstead County, has been working with the organization since January 2019 and has done a lot for the community.

“Our main concern is helping people who can’t help themselves,” he said. “Before COVID, and I’ll probably go back to it soon, I used to read every Tuesday at the Blevins school to the younger kids. We get people their social security cards, I’ve gotten homeless people homes, and I’m currently in the process of referring a lady to the Arkansas rehab so she can go back to school and work herself out of poverty.”

Bradley has personally helped many people get through the lowest point in their lives.

“There was a lady and her daughter that got their house burned down so we contacted the Salvation Army and got them a motel room for a week, a gift card for $300, and put them in contact with the Red Cross where they were able to give them $500,” she said. “They were able to live a better life during a tragic time because they contacted our office. It was a real joy to help.”

Laden has also helped many people over the past two years working for the company.

“We had this girl that came to us from Arizona and she was abused by her husband,” he said. “She had no place to live and didn’t have a birth certificate so we got her a birth certificate and a place to live. We got her connected with one of the furniture stores in town and got her some furniture and they helped her move in. I got another person who now owns two businesses. She’s got an insurance business and she also has a cleaning company. She’s done every program that we’ve had. She’s come from being on the streets to being a stellar in her community.”

Laden says that he is so thankful to work for a company like the CADC.

“It just makes you feel good when you work for a company that you can go home and you’re smiling because you know you’ve done good,” he said. “We get people in here that have no other choice but to come to us and that’s one of the best jobs that you can have. This is one of the best places in the world to work.”

Laden said that he’ll never forget his first day working for the CADC.

“The first day I started was one of my best memories because I went home with a big smile on my face,” he said. “I’m thinking they’re paying me to do this. They’re paying me to help these people.”

If someone needs assistance, they can call at 870-724-5080 for the office number or they can come to the office at 200 S. Elm. Street.

“You have to fill out an application and you have to qualify,” Bradley said. “To qualify you have to bring in your ID, your monthly for-pay, you have to have everybody’s income that’s in the household.”

The poverty guidelines to see if you or someone you know qualify are pictured below. If you want to stop by and speak with the CADC, you can go in their office or they will also be in the Watermelon Festival Parade and will be hosting the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday, July 13.

Poverty Guidelines

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