Programs from Southeast Nebraska Community Action agency.

Offering a wide range of services, the Southeast Nebraska Community Action Agency is focused on helping those that are struggling by offering them a hand up. During the process, some emergency financial assistance may be provided in some cases for bills or housing costs, such as rent. However that is not the focus of the agency.

They also work to address lack of education and employment in the area. So to this end, case managers partner with clients in Johnson, Cass, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and Richardson Counties. They provide solutions such as Individual Development Account or referrals to job placement, among other aid.

Assistance for bills in Southeast Nebraska

Basic needs can be administered by the Emergency Assistance Program. The non-profit provides support services for qualified families that are experiencing a crisis situation that make it difficult or impossible for them to provide for themselves.

This may include SENCA disbursing grants for paying rent and/or utility bill assistance, free food, gently used clothing, shelter, landlord-tenant mediation to stop evictions, and other essentials. The resources available will vary, but many families from counties such as Johnson and Nemaha have benefited from this. Or they can find other resources that can assist them as they find help paying rent.




Weatherization has provided free energy conservation services to thousands of homes in the six-county area. It helps people save money on their heating bills. Program goals from this SENCA service include reducing heating and cooling costs by saving energy and also enhancing the health and safety of households served. There is priority given to the elderly, homes with small children, and persons with disabilities. The program is invaluable in reducing Nebraska's dependence on imported energy, conserving energy, and contributing to the self-sufficiency of working poor residents.

The agency is also a participating agency in the Southeast Region Continuum of Care for the Homeless. The goal is to help the homeless/near homeless (such as those facing eviction) through community support and education. There may also be referrals to government grants programs for paying the security deposit on a new home, or maybe first month rent expense. The goal is twofold, and includes both prevention and rehousing the homeless.





Transportation is part of the Richardson County Transit System. The community action agency works with partners in an effort to provide this county-wide transportation service for the general public, with priority given to the handicapped and elderly in the region. The system operates on a regular schedule, providing low cost door to door service both locally and out of area for a slightly larger fee.

Locate help for food needs

Food Pantries operated by SENCA and churches in the region provide free groceries, mostly canned food, baby formula, and information about other community nutrition programs. Staff from the locations also offer education on safe food preparation and even tips on how to stretch your income. This is really key for families who are in need due to unforeseen emergency circumstances.

Food assistance is available at each county Outreach Office and Community Action Center. The items provided from locations in Johnson or Richardson County to the needy are obtained through donations from various churches, groups, organizations, and individuals. The community action agency also depends on cash donations from a number of other sources throughout the community.

Another option is some regions is the weekend Back Pack Food Program. One system that offers this is the Falls City area. The Back packs will be filled with nutritious food, snacks or grocery items each Thursday. The items will be able to be provided to children on Friday and it will help keep them nourished over the weekend.

The school also partners with the Lincoln Food Bank, Southeast Nebraska Communications (SNC), the non-profit SENCA, a number of businesses, organizations, and volunteers in the Falls City area to provide this service. Many children have been fed as a result of it.

Southeast Nebraska Community Action Agency (SENCA) also operates both congregate and home-delivered meal services to ensure that area senior citizens have access to hot, nutritious food items. The free congregate meals are served Monday through Friday from noon to one in the afternoon at participating Community Action Outreach Offices/Senior Centers. In addition to receiving a meal for a small suggested donation, the programs will also give the elderly an opportunity to get out and socialize with their peers.




For those who are homebound in counties such as Johnson, SENCA’s Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers deliver the food directly to them at home. Currently, the Congregate as well as the Meals on Wheels Programs are available at the Community Action Centers in Pawnee, Nemaha and Johnson Counties, but this can expand over time.

Case management and education from Southeast Nebraska Community Action

Poverty reduction services is offered as part of SENCA Family Outreach. The case management type service can help revitalize low-income neighborhoods in Nebraska, reduce the number of citizens who live in poverty, and guide low-income individuals and families toward becoming self-sufficient.

This goal is accomplished through a variety of programs, including Health and Nutrition, Emergency Assistance, Family Services, Low Income Transitional Housing, and Project First. Outreach Offices staffed by Family Development Associates are available at the SENCA offices in Cass, Richardson, Pawnee, Nemaha, Otoe, and Johnson.

Another key program is the matched-savings account, or IDA, that enables low to moderate-income working individuals and families to build assets. Funds that are obtained from the Individual Development Account may be used to establish small businesses, purchase homes, or even pay for post-secondary education.

Southeast Nebraska Community Action also provides financial education and credit counseling courses to support the efforts of IDA clients in becoming successful at managing money and building assets.

Head Start is the state of Nebraska’s comprehensive child-development program for three to five-year-olds and their parents. This family focused program has the overall goal of ensuring that students and infants from low-income families are thoroughly prepared to begin kindergarten and enter school.

The non-profit will also encourage involvement of parents and all other family members, as this is a major key component of the Head Start programming. It also helps with child development, community and family partnerships, and job placement for parents.





Another similar service is the Head Start Mentoring Service for area youth and teenagers. The aim is to provide opportunities for young people to become involved in their communities. Whether teenagers or older, the solution is flexible.

For those that need help or are struggling, contact the Southeast Nebraska Community Action. The address is 802 Fourth St., Humboldt, NE 68376. Call the office at 402-862-2411.

By Jon McNamara

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