Anti-poverty agency to host open house

By William K. Alcorn


The Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership (MYCAP) is having an open house Friday at its new offices, while at the same time fighting to stay alive.

The open house at the agency’s corporate and administrative offices, previously in downtown Youngstown, is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1325 Fifth Ave.

Activities include guided tours, a check presentation by Walgreens Drug Stores, games for children, door prizes and gifts and free food and refreshments.

Robin Renee Walton, MYCAP’s new chief executive officer, says the agency submitted a “corrective action” to the Ohio Department of Education that it hopes will persuade ODE to lobby the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive or reduce the $879,547 an ODE audit says MYCAP owes in connection with two USDA-funded child-and adult-feeding programs (CACFP).

The anti-poverty agency previously said no money was misspent or is missing and it was a matter of poor record keeping.

It also said if the state education demand stands, MYCAP would be forced into bankruptcy and out of business.

The agency does not generate sufficient revenue to pay the $879,547, and the grants it receives are earmarked for specific programs.

But, Walton said what was an adversarial relationship between MYCAP and ODE has been replaced with one of cooperation.

The ODE has demonstrated an enormous willingness to work with MYCAP by using its time and resources to re-audit and ensure accuracy. But, she cautioned, the new audit could result in more or less than the $879,547.

For MYCAP’s part, it submitted a corrective action plan to ODE that includes repaying $90,000 over five years in connection with the Summer Food Service Program, the terms of which ODE accepted.

“We are hopeful our good-faith effort of repaying the $90,000 will encourage ODE to appeal the $879,547 payback on the federal level,” she said.

Further, she said MYCAP has totally reorganized and the individuals responsible for the food program fiscal errors and activities resulting in this “exorbitant” repayment amount are no longer affiliated with the agency, Walton said.

Also, the agency, which provides assistance to low-income residents through several programs, has reduced its workforce from about 250 to 200 and dropped some programs, which are going to other agencies.

“I believe ODE understands our issues and the void that would be felt in Mahoning County should MYCAP be forced to pay the penalty for mistakes of three or four years ago,” Walton said.

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