Families across the state are struggling to make ends meet in this time of inflation, and many communities are coping with rising homeless populations. Such issues are acutely felt in the North Country, which has been slower to recover from the economic toll taken by the pandemic.
The Tri-County Community Action Program (TCCAP) in Berlin is playing a pivotal role helping North Country residents who are struggling to become self-sufficient. It provides myriad services through 48 service center sites throughout Coos, Carroll and Grafton counties, serving more than 27,000 people annually with a staff of 230.
Among the services it provides is a homeless shelter, food assistance through partnerships with the NH Food Bank and food pantries, homeless intervention and prevention services, affordable dental care, fuel assistance, weatherization assistance, meals and services for senior citizens, affordable housing programs, Head Start programs, transit programs, guardianship services and connecting people to community resources.
And overseeing it all is CEO Jeanne L. Robillard, who has dedicated 26 years to TCCAP and was promoted to CEO five years ago. “Community action programs, as a whole, are about helping people and changing lives. Before I worked for Tri-County Community Action, it helped me and changed my life,” says Robillard, recalling being a young mother who had just moved to NH’s North Country from Connecticut. “I had a child who had a health condition and needed medical care and equipment that made it difficult to work in an area where I was new and there were not a lot of jobs.”
She went from being a client to an employee and never looked back. “What keeps me here is the success stories we see every single day,” Robillard says. “Everyone [in the North Country] knows someone who receives services through Tri-County Community Action Program. The impact is huge.”
To meet the needs of people who live in areas where internet service is unreliable, TCCAP recently launched a pilot program to bring a mobile office into those communities to make it easier to access services. It is part of TCCAP’s and Robillard’s continuing commitment to meet the needs of the communities they serve. “It’s a very personal commitment I made long ago to ensure Tri-County Community Action would be here in perpetuity. That’s what keeps me going.