The Addison County Community Action Group (ACCAG), doing business as HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects,) is your locally controlled, locally funded poverty relief organization. We have been serving Addison County since 1965, with a broad range of programs and services. We are dynamic and creative, and always looking ahead with an eye to new needs and trends. As times change, so do our programs. HOPE’s purpose is not just to administer its own programs, but to anticipate unmet and emerging needs, and to work with others to create a response.
Our Vision is that all people in Addison County have access to the tools and resources necessary to meet their own basic needs.
Founded in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, HOPE began in one room with a pile of used clothing and some shelves of groceries.
Early director John Graham (who’s official title was “County Developer”) sought out families in need, helped them obtain what they needed, and then engaged them in providing assistance to other low income households. Poverty back then was large and deep, and John was often highly distressed at the conditions of children, writing of the child who’s breakfast was a half a bologna sandwich and a cup of beer, and furious at the needless death of a child in his bed when the house burned down due to a substandard wood stove.
Over the years, programs have come and gone, including self-help ventures such as Thumb Busters (a furniture making operation,) Blossom’s Restaurant, a maple syrup project, a Christmas Tree farm, and a field of potatoes planted and harvested by staff and volunteers. In the 1980s, we began to create affordable housing, developing over 200 units that continue to provide safe, decent housing for income eligible households. We operate the largest food shelf in the county.
RetroWorks was formed in 1993, with Al Freeman instructing homeless men to repair discarded appliances. In 1999, RetroWorks was combined with our former free clothing room to create a successful charity resale store that provides basic items to those in need, but also generates significant revenues in support of our other poverty-relief programs, thanks to a growing base of customers from all economic levels.
HOPE never existed to simply administer a set menu of programs. Beyond our own core programs, our purpose included working with others in the community to identify unmet needs and develop new programs and organizations to meet those needs. We were largely involved in the creation of various other Addison County non-profits, including the Open Door Clinic, Transit Resources, and others.
See our 50th Anniversary page for richer detail of our history.