Help from St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette (SMILE CAA) community action programs.
Several services are offered by St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette Community Action Agency, some in partnership with churches or local charities. The non-profit offers free food, information on financial aid such as utility assistance, and help for veterans and seniors. They also receive funds from government grants, including ESG, for housing needs. All resources are very limited, and they operate in several parishes including Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, Jefferson Davis, and Acadia.
Food resources from SMILE CAA
Emergency food assistance, groceries, and nutrition education for low-income citizens is available in Louisiana, including the parishes of Lafayette and Jefferson Davis. Some of their primary nutrition programs are listed below.
- Free Food Boxes: Various community sponsored drives, including some held by churches, and private donations supply food that is packaged and distributed each weekday to the needy. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.
- Surplus US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodities: SMILE CAA distributes food and groceries that are provided by the USDA to income-eligible households.
- Market Salvage is when volunteers from the Community Action Agency collect food from participating area businesses or restaurants on a daily basis, then sort it for individuals or even pantries.
- Information on ways to budget as well as Nutrition Education – The agency will provide advice on stretching your budget, on-going education, plus recipes that offer healthy options for food preparation.
- Applications for public aid, such as food stamps/SNAP can be provided, as well as advice on completing them.
Another focus is on the elderly and disabled. MOW, or Meals on Wheels, is when volunteers from the parish furnish hot, nutritious, home-delivered meals that meet one-third of the RDA Daily Nutritional Requirements. These are brought to homebound elderly and/or disabled individuals, and the client also gets some companionship.
There are some fees required by St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette Community Action Agency, and they can be through subsidies, private pay or Medicaid, depending on client eligibility. However if someone can’t pay, some type of accommodation will be made.
Weekend or Christmas meals are available as well. MOW services go beyond providing food as the staff also provide a connection with the outside community as well as a daily check-in to ensure client safety. Whenever possible, the driver will make it a point to remember clients on birthdays and special holidays, since many of them do not have family, relatives or friends nearby with whom they can celebrate.
A food bank as well as limited personal hygiene products, such as soap, free shampoo, deodorant, shaving supplies, dental care items, and feminine hygiene products are distributed to income-eligible residents. Products are obtained through community donations and small grants.
Funds for rent, utility bills, or security deposits
Emergency rental assistance is available. Using money raised from the government as part of the Emergency Solutions Grant program, SMILE may be able to issue funds to pay for back rent that is owed in parishes such as Iberia, Lafayette, Acadia, or St. Martin. Case managers will also partner with the tenant to address the cause of the possible eviction or coordinate landlord and tenant mediation.
This federal government sponsored program also provides shelters in Louisiana, and the homeless can be referred to them for stability. Also, as they go through the case management process, a no interest loan may be provided to them at the end of the stay and the funds can be used for a security deposit.
In cases where the agency is unable to provide a needed service, case managers operate an Information and Referral Program for parishes such as Acadia or Lafayette. Accessing a database, case managers seek out the most appropriate resources in the local Louisiana community to assist income qualified clients. Information and Referral personnel connect clients with outside services and provides referrals through telephone or written contact, as needed.
Another focus of St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette Community Action Agency is on veterans. There is assistance for the homeless or those who are in danger of becoming evicted/homeless. The non-profit prioritizes case management and government funds, such as SSVF for these individuals. There are also referrals, attention for medical needs, food, and more.
The agency is the administrator of several energy funds in the state of Louisiana, including utility customer donation-supported programs, corporate giving, and grant programs generated from community and/or agency fundraisers. Any monetary assistance for paying utility bills is distributed on a case-by-case basis, and individual program guidelines apply, as described below.
The main Louisiana program is Low Income Home Energy Assistance, otherwise known as. It can provide income-eligible households in parishes such as Acadia as well as the elderly struggling with winter heating costs with once-per-year cash benefits, paid directly to utility companies on behalf of participants. There may be help for AC bills as well during the hot and humid summer. Eligibility for any type of Energy Bill Assistance is determined according to household income (based on Federal Poverty Guidelines), historical consumption amount, household size, and geographic location in Louisiana.
SMILE CAA Weatherization Program is a year-round service assisting income-eligible Louisiana homeowners and rental tenants with the management of high energy costs. Clients can receive free energy-efficient repairs and alterations needed to combat heat loss and air filtration in their homes. Some of the measures taken may include insulation, caulking and weather-stripping, window repair and others.
Community action educational programs and homeowner counseling
Louisiana General Educational Development certification courses are arranged by the agency to area residents who, for a variety of reasons, do not have high school diplomas or enough education to make it in the competitive job market. A GED increases job opportunities and facilitates access to higher education. The program provides free, individualized tutoring to students, as well as assistance with the cost of testing.
Both Head Start and Early HS are provided to children from low income families. St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette Community Action Agency administers this, and the program focuses on educational development as well as medical needs of the child.
Another service available by SMILE in partnership with other agencies is the Homebuyer Essentials Financial Literacy Program. This provides education in regard to the fundamentals of financial management, budgeting and preparation for homeownership. The main focus for HEFLP is to inform homeowners in West Baton Rouge Parish of the importance of mortgage maintenance and home retention. Counselors will work with the client in order to furnish them with the means to accomplish that goal.
As one of many state of Louisiana and national community action agencies acting as Community Housing Development Organizations, SMILE CAA provides programming and support services that help low-income members as well as the homeless in the community with obtaining safe and affordable housing. Funding for the Rental Housing Program is provided by Louisiana Housing and Finance, USDA Rural Development, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other government grant streams.
Applying for help from Community Action Agency in St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette Parish
The St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette Community Action Agency is located in multiple locations, as noted below. They also operate other programs too, such as can help residents apply for Medicaid or disability, provide information on prescription drug programs, and much more.
- St. Martin Community Action Center - 2097 Terrace Road, St. Martinville, Louisiana 70582, main phone (337) 394-6013.
- Iberia Community Action Center has a center at 722 Walton Street, New Iberia, Louisiana 70560, main phone (337) 365-8151
- Lafayette Community Action Center - 501 St. John Street, Lafayette, Louisiana 70501, (337) 232-6810