COTS, Meals on Wheels to continue while COCAA is closed.
Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency will be temporarily closed through June 29, although some services, such as Central Oklahoma Transit (COTS), as well as Meals on Wheels, will continue without interruption.
“We have not closed our doors permanently; we anticipate being fully operational again on Monday, June 30,” Rebecca Stone, executive director for COCAA, said Monday. “We are taking some time to examine and reorganize our programs and business practices. This reorganization, when completed by the board, executives and financial staff, will enable us to serve our clients in the most efficient manner.”
COCAA receives funding from a number of different sources, Stone said. Some of that local, state and federal funding didn’t come through, “and that’s created shortfalls for us,” she said.
“We’re trying to figure out to how serve the community the best way possible,” she added.
Stone said about 50 percent of COCAA employees, including administrative staff, will be temporarily furloughed and brought back on as their program becomes fully operational again.
The temporary closures will affect the Shawnee office on Union Street, as well as Client Services in Pottawatomie, Payne, Cleveland, Lincoln, Logan and Seminole counties. Also affected will be COCAA’s weatherization program in all six counties.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and we look forward to your continued support when we re-open,” she said.
Full COCAA services will be maintained at all times at The Mission of Hope in Stillwater, The Stillwater Community Health Center, Norman Housing and Central Oklahoma Transit System (COTS). Tina Lowery, COTS Director, said clients wishing to use the transportation service should call on the direct-dial number 405-273-3000 to make their reservations.
The Volunteers Impacting People (VIP) program will still be maintaining the Meals on Wheels program in Pottawatomie County and the VIP program will continue to operate with their volunteers. For VIP services, call 275-7910, Stone said.
The main impact of the Shawnee office closing will be weatherization and emergency client services, such as rental assistance, along with some referrals, Stone said.
That said, Stone said many staffers do plan to volunteer to keep some things going, such as checking voice messages to help when services are needed.
Through this time of reorganization, they’ll look at all services and keep those with the “best bang for the buck,” she said.
“We will continue to keep our staff, our clients and the media informed of the progress of our re-organization and re-opening schedule,” Stone said, including updates through social media and websites as well as media releases. COCAA’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/COCAAFRIENDS and their website is http://www.cocaa.org/.
COCAA, formerly Action Inc, started in Shawnee in March 1968. In 1998, as the agency continued to grow and serve more communities, the name was changed.
In 2013, from funds donated and granted, COCAA made more than 30,000 transportation trips through COTS, including taking people to medical appointments, work, school, nutrition appointments, social outings to the Senior Center and shopping.
Last year, COCAA weatherized over 71 homes, helped more than 500 individuals and families with their utility bills, helped 1,855 families with food and 4,823 individuals with food necessities.
“To still be serving our communities after 46 years is quite an accomplishment,” Stone said. “However, we can not just reflect on the past; we have to keep trying to move forward. This means that we are constantly evaluating, and re-evaluating our programs and the needs of the community. To continue to be successful and attract new programs and funding, we have to be flexible and willing to adapt. COCAA is ready and willing.”
Watch for updates.