Joel Evans with DAEOC speaks at the Sikeston Regional Chamber luncheon on Thursday.
David Jenkins / Standard Democrat
SIKESTON — Since 1965, DAEOC has served six Bootheel counties with a mission to empower people to make positive changes in their personal, family and community lives.
Reagan Collins, strategic communications specialist at DAEOC, which stands for Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation, gave a presentation on DAEOC’s offerings at the Sikeston Regional Chamber meeting on Thursday.
DAEOC is one of 19 community action agencies in the state of Missouri and one of 1,000 agencies in the United States and Puerto Rico.
Reagan Collins, strategic communications specialist with DAEOC, speaks at the Sikesotn Regional Chamber luncheon on Thursday afternoon.
David Jenkins / Standard Democrat
Collins said community action means engaging the community while spreading understanding and empowerment through local services people can use to improve their lives.
“Fundamentally, these are people helping other people,” Collins said.
DAEOC’s foundation began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy read a book about injustice in poor parts of the country by Michael Harrington titled “The Other America.” After reading the book, Kennedy was prompted to explore three key areas: strategies to improve the difficult situations that people experiencing poverty faced; train people for the new jobs created and engage in more community-based strategies.
Before Kennedy could implement any programs, he was assassinated, but his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, declared a national war on poverty during his 1964 State of the Union address. then recruited a team that drafted the Equal Opportunity Act.
In 1965, a group created by the Department of Agriculture traveled to Missouri and established a community action agency to serve six Bootheel counties in Missouri: Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi, Stoddard, Dunklin and Pemiscot. In April 1965, DAEOC was formed.
Today, DAEOC offers a variety of programs, including their community service branch.
Under the Community Services branch, DAEOC has programs such as Low Income Heating Assistance (LIHEAP).
“This is an energy assistance, emergency crisis program and these can help fund those facing shutdown notices, low propane tanks,” Collins said. . “It can also help offset ongoing heating costs.”
They also have a Child Care Food Program that provides nutritious meals and snacks to low-income children attending licensed child care centers and a SkillUP program that is free to participants who receive food stamps and helps recipients acquire skills. skills so that they can find gainful employment.
DAEOC is able to provide these services through a block grant for community services. Thanks to the grant, DAEOC is able to have four outreach centres: Sikeston, Portageville, Malden and Hayti.
“These offices help clients with the paperwork needed to enroll in these programs and they connect them to community resources if we are unable to help them,” Collins said.
There is also a mobile outreach office which is in a different city each week, assisting those who cannot travel to one of the outreach centres.
Collins said their newest addition to Community Service Impact is their adult education center, named Growing the Delta: Adult Education Center.
Located in Portageville, the building was previously the central office of DAEOC until the building was redone in 2021.
At the center, they offer courses in cooking, computers, gardening, basic finance and work behavior, and beekeeping.
“Classes started last summer and have been pretty much full since then,” Collins said.
DAEOC’s Habitat Branch provides homelessness services, home repairs, weatherization and a victim response team.
“Bloat is the nation’s largest residential energy assistance program, helping locate customers with energy efficiency measures such as improvements to their homes, HVAC and electrical systems, electrical appliances,” said Collins, adding that participants receive an audit that includes diagnostic testing so they have a program specific to their needs.
DAEOC is best known for its branch of children’s services which includes the Jumpstart program.
“These programs support the cognitive, social and emotional development of children from birth to age five,” Collins said. “They offer child and family services.”
Children at the centers receive an active learning program, health screenings, nutritious food and school readiness where families receive family commitment and resources to help them through whatever they are going through.
In 2020, DAEOC had an overall economic impact on the region of $152 million.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to bring federal funding to our six-county region to help people make positive changes in their lives and communities,” Collins said.