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Anti-poverty agency looks to remake image

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston based anti-poverty agency has changed its name to try and revive its reputation, the organization's director said Wednesday.

Danny Scalise, chief executive officer of Capital Resource Agency, plans to announce the group has changed its name to EnAct at an annual board meeting Thursday. The agency's website already reflects the name change.

EnAct stands for "The Engine for Action" and signifies the group's proactive approach to fighting poverty, Scalise said.

"It's about solving the problem, not just sitting back and waiting for someone to come in and say 'I want you to give me some money', which we have done in the past," he said.

CRA's past is something Scalise wants to change.

The CRA was set up in 2007 to replace Multi-CAP, a nonprofit agency that declared bankruptcy in 2001. Multi-CAP's former director went to jail after pleading guilty to spending federal money on strippers and a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

Two years ago, the state seized control of CRA's weatherization program after investigators discovered widespread fraud.

And earlier this year, the agency's president resigned following accusations that she tried to use her position at the CRA to secure millions of dollars in federal funding for a Mississippi-based nonprofit, where she worked as a contract administrator.

"Our company over the past few years has had plenty of bad news," Scalise said. "Our reputation has been an eyesore in the past, but we're moving forward and I feel good about what we're doing."

The agency, which has seven offices in five counties -- Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Clay and Fayette -- has about 65 employees, Scalise said.

Funding comes from community service block grants, Medicaid waivers and various other grants, gifts and donations, Scalise said.

The organization helps provide assistance in emergency food and shelter situations, and recently has been working with community colleges by helping students apply for financial aid and providing mentors, among other things.

"A lot of people don't have someone to stress the importance of going to college, or most schools have financial aid people, but they don't have someone that can pick up the tab on this thing or the other. We fill in the gaps for programs already in place," he said.

"We have employees that really, really work hard, and over the years we've really been beat up. Now that we're turning things around we'd like people to hear we're doing good things."

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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