Programs from Joint Orange-Chatham Community Action Agency.

Several unique resources and assistance programs are administered by the Orange-Chatham Community Action organization. They are focused on long term solutions to poverty, while at the same time helping with some immediate, short term needs.

The non-profit agency known as JOCCA operates a wide array of social services and other assistance programs. They are all focused on helping financially disadvantaged residents of Orange and Chatham Counties, including seniors and the unemployed.

The goal is to help them improve their quality of life. Some of the services provided includes Government Benefit Application Assistance, Childcare, and referrals to Job Training. They also have information on local non-profit programs or to other charity agencies or churches in the region. Examples of the basic needs addressed are the free Senior Congregate Meal Program, short term Shelter, food, and grants for paying utility bills.

The regional Food Pantry in the Orange County area provides free short-term emergency assistance for community members and the working poor who have stretched their budgets to the breaking point. As donations and resources allow, the pantry furnishes a three day supply of groceries or non-perishable items, which is assembled to include a nutritional balance of the major food groups.

Financial support or donations for the pantry comes from a variety of sources, including the Community Services Block Grant, churches, and the Food Bank of Central NC. Government funding is also used too, including the EFSP or Emergency Food and Shelter Program, the state of North Carolina Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program and money raised from the general population too.

Joint Orange-Chatham Community Action Agency and the TFAP program, or Total Family Achievement, provides a wide variety and spectrum of services to guide families from low incomes through case management. It will cover the process of setting goals. As part of this process, clients will be assessing their own strengths and working as a team to achieve those goals which will revolve around economic stability and self-sufficiency.




The team of program specialists from community action teach individuals ways to market themselves more effectively. The goal is to improve their job qualifications, pay down any debts, helping them to budget their money and even assisting them in finding better places to live.

Children from the household are included in all programming, as they are key members of a family. This is a requirement of NC Department of Health and Human Services. This is also done in an effort to demonstrate that the entire family must work as a unit to have a better life style.

Financial aid and referrals are part of the Community Service Block Grant. This state and federal program takes a unique, comprehensive approach to breaking down the barriers that working poor families face on a daily basis, with the goal of reaching family self-sufficiency.

Services from JOCCA may be able to help with GED preparation, grants for paying utility bills from Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, classes on Interview Skills or Job placement, computer training and also free income tax preparation for income-eligible individuals and families. Other financial support may be arranged too.

To expand upon above, the LIHEAP Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a federally resource that provides struggling households with financial support. There is help for Orange County and other NC families for paying gas and heating bills as well as other expenses. It is often processed by a local social service office, however community action may have referrals to it.

All counties work in partnership with the NC Department of Health and Human Services to provide for Heating and Air Conditioning Repair and Replacement Program, or HARRP. This is a tool that provides inspection as well as the replacement of heating and/or air conditioning systems of income qualified families, with a focus on the elderly or disabled. The main goal is to increase energy efficiency and ensure the good health and safety of a home’s occupants.

Similar to above is Weatherization. This is another state and federal government assistance program that is available in both Chatham County and Orange. It will improve the level of energy efficiency in the homes of low-income landlords (with tenants) and homeowners by providing free energy-efficient alterations and repairs to keep homes warm in winter, cool in summer, and safe year-round. Such measures to the home reduce energy usage and lower a families utility bills.





In order to be eligible for WAP, the household in the community action agencies service area must have an income below 200 percent of the Federal Government approved Poverty Level or there must be at least one household member receiving cash assistance under SSI or TANF.

The Orange-Chatham County Community Action Weatherization process begins with services being delivered to single-family homes, mobile units, multi-family dwellings, and condos. The updates can include Installing Insulation (attics, walls, and floors), Sealing and Insulating Ducts, Sealing Air Leaks, the Tuning and Repairing Heating and Cooling Systems, and much more.

Head Start child development from JOCCA will ensure that children who are three and four years old are fully prepared to begin kindergarten. There are multiple centers and schools helping hundreds of children per year. The locations are in both Orange and Chatham Counties in North Carolina.

All classes and sessions Program services are determined according to the specific development needs of each child. Head Start works to develop social and learning skills by providing high quality education. It also coordinates mental health services; family case management; nutrition education; and can serve the child free meals too.

The main location is Pittsboro, North Carolina 27312. The Joint Orange-Chatham Community Action can also be reached at 919-542-4781.




By Jon McNamara

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