Orange County’s Community Action Division Creates Success Stories Throughout the Region
May is National Community Action Month, and more than 1,000 community action agencies across the nation are working to make communities stronger and help families thrive. Locally, Orange County’s Community Action Division oversees numerous social-service programs that empower low-income individuals and families towards economic stability.
One of its many success stories is Daysesa Smith, who aspires to be a nurse so she can provide more financial security for her three small children and have the fulfilling career she has long desired.
“I want a career I can feel good about,” said Smith, a single mother from New York who moved to Florida seeking a fresh start. “I want a job that pays the bills and makes a difference, and I’ve been putting my all into making that happen for myself and my kids.”
Smith connected with the Community Action Division, and following a comprehensive needs assessment, she enrolled in the Family Self Sufficiency Program (FSSP), an initiative designed to assist low-income individuals achieve steady employment and financial stability. FSSP provided Smith with a case manager, and she was trained in a range of employability and life-management skills, including money management, resume development and job interview preparation.
With FSSP tuition assistance, Smith completed the clinical medical assistant program at Valencia College and earned certifications as a medical administrative assistant and clinical medical assistant. She now works as a clinical medical assistant at UCF Health and plans to return to school in the fall to pursue her degree in nursing.
“Daysesa is doing the hard work to achieve her dreams,” said Trellany White, acting division manager. “We take pride in empowering citizens to reach their goals and are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.”
In addition to the FSSP, Smith took advantage of the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a national utility-bill assistance program that helps households manage heating and cooling costs. In 2022, the program delivered more than 12,400 utility payments to Orange County households.
“Community Action’s programs, resources and services work together to enhance the quality of life for Orange County residents like Daysesa Smith,” said White. “We serve a noble mission that creates success stories throughout Central Florida.”
Orange County Community Action is a division of the Community and Family Services Department. For more on Community Action Division programs and services, as well as its seven community centers, go to ocfl.net/CommunityAction.
Photo Caption: Family Self Sufficiency program staff, Orange County Government Community Action Division