GROW South Dakota celebrates May as Community Action Month

Staff reports
Farm Forum

2020 marks the 56th year since the Community Action Network was established to help American families and communities overcome obstacles to poverty. Over 1000 agencies across the country are working every day to create opportunities and transform the lives of their neighbors making communities stronger and helping families across the US thrive. This year, NESDCAP dba GROW South Dakota, a proud member of the Community Action Network, will also commemorate 54 years in service helping families throughout Northeast South Dakota.

“Each May, during Community Action Month, we reflect on the impact GROW South Dakota and our Community Action Network has had on families,” said Marcia Erickson, CEO of GROW South Dakota. The following is an example of the impact GROW South Dakota made on an individual.

In 2018 GROW South Dakota’s weatherization team received a call from Ruth, a senior resident, in need of assistance with heating her house. When the weatherization team went to her home, they discovered energy inefficiencies as well as safety concerns. Not only did the heating system need to be addressed, but the previous heating unit was not adequately ventilated, which could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Other weatherization measures discovered were leaking windows, creating drafting in the house, and there was no insulation in the attic, walls, and under the floor, which made the house very cold. There was not an exhaust for the stove, and there was not an indoor bathroom. The homeowner had been using an outhouse as a restroom and would go to friends and neighbors when she needed to shower.

GROW South Dakota was able to transform this living space into a more efficient home by providing insulation to the entire house and provided new storm windows. GROW South Dakota also replaced the old unvented space heater with a vented space heater, and installed an exhaust fan above the stove. Besides the lifesaving installment of a new heating unit, the most significant improvement, with assistance from the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program (FHLB AHP) funding, was an addition to the house. Ruth now has an indoor bathroom with a shower, sink, toilet, and water hookups for a washing machine.

“Because of this program, I no longer have to worry about C02 poisoning. I have adequate heat and no wind blowing through the windows and doors. For the first time, I don’t have to walk to the outhouse and worry about falling. I’m able to take a shower without going to someone else’s house. To say what I have received from the program has been life-changing would be a complete understatement,” Ruth said.

These life-changing modifications were made possible through the Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program and the FHLB AHP that are both administered by GROW South Dakota. As noted by Marcia Erickson, GROW South Dakota CEO, “This work is the core mission of GROW South Dakota. We provide needed assistance to households that would not be possible without our dedicated team and our partnering funding sources that support the work we do. It is so rewarding to provide this type of service every day.”

A bathroom was added to the rear of this house and additional home improvements were made thanks to assistance administered by GROW South Dakota.