The Clinton County Community Action Program (CCCAP) may be one of the best kept secrets in the county though many will recognize several of the projects they support to help reduce poverty: Head Start, the Food Pantry, the Aging Up Community Center operating at the Wilmington Savings Bank, Senior Housing at Clinton Commons I and II, Community Commons and Blanchester Senior Villas, and family housing at Clinton Glen and Wilmington Apartments, among others. In operation since 1965, the CCCAP is a local, private, nonprofit corporation funded primarily by Federal and State grants, as well as by income from for-hire services (Catering Connections and Clinton Maid), fundraising (Corn 5K Walk/Run) and a few local grants (HealthFirst, LEGACY Fund, Clinton County Foundation).
Recently, the CCCAP benefited from a multiple Win-Win. An anonymous donor was in search of a good cause to which to donate. Referred by a friend to the Clinton County Foundation, this donor was provided the Foundation’s financial and administrative expertise to establish a fund that benefited the CCCAP and enabled them to create vegetable gardens for the CCCAP’s senior housing apartments. Turning to recently retired Wilmington College Ag professor, Monte Anderson, the CCCAP was able to enlist his support and knowledge to transform old, deteriorated gardens into fresh and fruitful garden beds. Nearly 14 seniors including Steve Barber, Lisa Keys, Greg Pitzer and Linda Vantress donated their time in building and installing 16 new beds. Not only have they benefited from having access to fresh food, but they’ve also enjoyed being outdoors, socializing and getting in some exercise. “Every garden bed has a story,” explained Monte. “One gardener traded his beans for zucchini to make zucchini bread, while another learned how to can some of the vegetables from her garden. It was amazing to see how the gardeners helped each other from watering one another’s beds to helping carry vegetables to a fellow gardener’s apartment.”
“Thanks to an anonymous donor and the support of the Clinton County Foundation, we had multiple wins for our community – it enabled the CCCAP to support a new program, the donor was able to achieve her objectives, Monte got to exercise his expertise, but most importantly our seniors were introduced to the healthy world of vegetable gardening,” shared Jane Newkirk, CEO of the CCCAP. Who knew growing a few veggies could have such a broad impact. And next year, the plan is to double the number of garden beds, so watch out!
“You can never train enough for a job that can kill you,” is the core belief that motivates and inspires the first responders of the Clinton-Warren Joint Fire and Rescue District (CWJFD). The CWJFD, located in Clarksville, OH, serves an estimated population of 9,000, in mostly rural settings and responds to nearly 1,000 emergencies per year. Nearly nine miles of I-71 run through the CWJFD which is also home to Cowan Lake State Park, the World Equestrian Center, Clinton Massie Local Schools, and Camp Joy Outdoor Education Center.
One particularly rural-specific and life-threatening emergency occurred in March 2023, when the CWJFD (along with the Sabina and Wilmington Fire Departments) were called upon to rescue a Sabina man trapped in a grain bin for nearly five hours. Without the specialized equipment the CWJFD had on hand, courtesy of a grant from the LEGACY Fund at the Clinton County Foundation, this rescue may not have succeeded.
For the last three years, the LEGACY Fund has provided the CWJFD with specialized equipment enabling them to train for and respond to highly technical and life-threatening emergencies. Such low frequency but highly impactful events include grain bin entrapments (aka, engulfment hazards), various rope rescues, water rescues, and fire suppression. “All our equipment is loaded onto one truck, so we are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to these types of unique and rapidly changing critical events,” shared Captains Andrew Wysong and Brad Burton.
The key to these rescues is not only having the right equipment, but also using it to create lifelike training for firefighters throughout Clinton County. Thanks to the LEGACY Fund, the CWJFD has been able to acquire a Bullard Satellite Fire Attack panel (to simulate fire flames and smoke without the corresponding toxic fumes), corresponding fire extinguisher simulator props, multiple rope rescue items, water rescue equipment and a Great Wall Grain Rescue Tube. Rather than having to rely on regional teams from Cincinnati, Dayton or Columbus, our local firefighters can now hone their rescue skills locally through repetitive training. “Training is the most fundamental form of preparedness we first responders can get in order to have a high probability of preventing severe injury or death,” explained Chief Bob Wysong.
As a community foundation, the Clinton County Foundation is home to over 100 funds that, like the Legacy Fund, are dedicated to improving lives through philanthropy. In a rural community where resources are often scarce, grants can provide much needed support to local government and nonprofits. This example of local grantmaking exemplifies the profound impact of local grant dollars focused on local needs. And in the case of a Sabina man, equipment and training for local volunteer first responders saved the life of one of our own.
About the Legacy Fund
Established in 2019, The LEGACY Fund focuses on improving the health, welfare, and safety of Clinton County citizens through project-based funding of transformative ideas and creative, pioneering programs. LEGACY Fund projects often lay the groundwork for systemic changes that utilize local strategies and visionary leadership. Grant applications are accepted through the Clinton County Foundation grant portal one time each year.