WSOS Community Action
WSOS is a private, nonprofit Community Action Agency serving the population in Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa, and Seneca counties with additional programs in Erie, Huron and Hancock counties. The agency grew out of the “War on Poverty” established by President Lyndon Johnson. Its mission is to reduce poverty and to help low-income people become self-sufficient. With that broad mission, WSOS has established dozens of assistance and training programs in its mostly rural territory.
WSOS provides Head Start programs for children and senior centers for the older population. WSOS provides home repair, helps with utility costs, supplies supportive and transitional housing, and helps homebuyers keep their homes. To help people support themselves, it subsidizes skills training.
In addition to direct help for citizens, WSOS does significant outreach to governments. Joyce Huntley, public relations director for WSOS said, “We work closely with legislators to bring funding back to rural communities. We let county commissioners and other elected officials know what needs exist in the communities we serve. We let them know how the funding we bring to the communities impacts the residents of their service area.”
Employees of WSOS are actively involved in TMACOG councils and committees. Joyce Huntley said, “We are a member of TMACOG because of the resources that TMACOG can make available to us. TMACOG has a wide reach. They provide us with opportunities to interact with jurisdictions informally … and with businesses, consultants, engineers and other such groups that help expand our reach and share assets and information.”
TMACOG partners with WSOS, particularly on watershed and water infrastructure programs. WSOS houses RCAP, the Rural Community Assistance Program, which TMACOG has partnered with to train local officials who run water utilities. WSOS is also the home of the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition.
The core funding for WSOS comes from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which was created in 1981. WSOS is one of 52 Community Action Agencies in Ohio and one of about 1,000 CAAs nationwide.