CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation.

The number of services from CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation is extensive. The agency offers assistance to residents of several counties in Illinois, including Christian, Clay, Effingham, Fayette, Montgomery, Moultrie, and Shelby. The non-profit and its staff work with clients to help them realize their potential.

During that case management time frame, residents can use the community action agencies social service programs and referrals. These are available in an effort to help low income, the working poor, and disadvantaged people in staying above water in the short term and becoming self-sufficient in the long term. The agencies’ main office is located at 1805 South Banker Street, Effingham, Illinois, 62401-0928. Call (217) 342-2193.

Most of the aid originates from the Community Services Block Grant Program. This offers a vast range of social services to help low-income families acquire skills, experience and knowledge required to attain self-sufficiency.

When funding is available, it provides qualified families from counties including Clay and others with free food, shelter, prescription medicines and money for critical transportation expenses. The CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation has an Outreach Office in each of the counties being served. Staff from the center will refer qualified customers to other human service agencies and charities in Montgomery and Effingham County if direct service cannot be provided by the agency.

Additional assistance from the CSBG program may include education, housing and emergency services,  scholarships, low interest business loans to small, and employment. The programs provided for also include case management, rent and utility bill assistance, literary services, nutrition to senior citizens, homebuyers’ assistance and assistance to the homeless and income tax assistance. The Community Services Block Grant program is administered in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the federal government.

Golden Circle Nutrition Program is for the elderly. It was designed for keeping the senior citizens healthy for a longer time. This is one of the primary missions of the Golden Circle Nutrition program and for that matter, CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation.




Food and nutrition is an important component of community-based services for elderly citizens. Affordable food and adequate nutrition is crucial to health and quality of life. Some components of this include the group dining program which offers an interactive network on a social basis. Another option is free meals, which are delivered to their homes. Golden Circle is promoting healthy activity and helping reduce depression among senior citizens. This support makes considerable difference in the lives of elderly people and their spouses who are mostly struggling to be independent in their environment.

Throughout this process, a volunteer from the non-profit community action agency will check the seniors on a daily basis. A free nutritious meal, a visitor and their companionship helps prevent early institutionalization for these home-bound senior citizens. Telephone number is 217-342-2193.

Education - Head Start Program is offered in Illinois. It is a federally funded program providing complete educational services to women and their children who are expecting and children from the age of infancy up to five years. This government program also includes children with disability or multiple special needs. At present, the program is taking care of hundreds of children. Head Start program is also being operated by some local non-profit organizations as well as CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation.

Children who take part and enroll into this program involve themselves in various educational activities. It will help them grow mentally and also emotionally. They will leave this program much better prepared and equipped for kindergarten school in their county. These children from low income families are also given free food, developmental and hearing screening, and other support They are also offered access to medical and dental treatment and check ups.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority works in the region to offer the Homebuyer Program. CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation is also a key sponsor of numerous home program activities in the seven specified counties in Illinois.

Assistance from the Homebuyer Program includes loans or grants to help with the down payments and the closing costs of acquiring homes. It also provides rehabilitation funds to owner and landlords so that the housing unit comes up to Section 8 Housing Quality Standards. Most of the aid paid out is in the form of zero-interest loans.





The applicants to the Homebuyer Program are also offered free workshops and counseling. The subjects covered are selection of a home, financing and the process of buying. It also teaches loan closing and budgeting.

CEFS Literacy Program is part of the Pro-Literacy America organization. This is the largest literacy volunteer, educational organization in the country. Its mission is to assist families in meeting their long term literacy such as writing, reading, computer, math and life skills. It operates from highly trained volunteers along with partnerships with other charities and non-profit community organizations that promote literacy.

Workforce Investment Act Program will help increase the employment and earning skills of residents. It is for the unemployed and others in the workforce in the covered counties. CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation is part of the Illinois Local Workforce Area. The non-profit receives its funding for WIA from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. All services are free to those that qualify.

Energy bill assistance and resources

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) from Illinois helps low income families save fuel and expenses on their utility bills while also increasing the comfort level of their homes. The assistance program has been designed offer comfort all the year round and to bring about savings to the elderly people who have a disability. WAP is for low-income households throughout the counties such as Shelby, Christian, and Clay.

The government program aims to save energy by implementing energy conservation measures so that both heating bill and cooling expenses are reduced. These measures are established through an inspection by an energy auditor who is certified and approved by CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation. Some of what may be provided in Illinois includes furnace repair/replacement, insulation, water heater repair, Caulking, weather-stripping, and window and door repair/replacements, and more.

Utility bill help from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is for low-income households. It helps these groups in managing the rising energy costs through direct financial assistance and by means of energy counseling. Concentration and priority is for serving the senior citizens, families with children and people with disability.




When funding is available, the government mandated LIHEAP program provides a one-time payment for eligible households that can be used for payment of their utility or gas bills. The amount allocated is decided by the size of the household and the fuel type along with the total earnings generated by the household in a month. Renters who have utilities included in their rental payments can also qualify for this one-time cash disbursement if the rental amount qualified them. The funding for LIHEAP is provided by the state of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among other government agencies. Other components of it include:

-An emergency furnace repair or replacement component for homeowners.
-Crisis reconnection assistance may be available if the household is disconnected from their main energy source.
-PIPP, or Percentage of Income Payment Plan, is for Ameren customers and CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation can advise on this. It is a discount program in the counties such as Effingham and Clay Illinois.


By Jon McNamara

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