There’s a new head of the Crowley’s Ridge Development Council (CRDC).

Jeremy Wooldridge assumed the duties as chief executive officer of the organization as of April 26.

Wooldridge, also a current justice of the peace for District 10 on the Greene County Quorum Court, had previously worked for 13 years at Families, Inc. “The calling that took me to Families, Inc. was to help people,” he said recently, “and I saw CRDC as an opportunity to help people [through] a different avenue, to meet more needs and do it in a larger service area.”

Wooldridge said he hopes to bring to CRDC a desire to improve what he called the “continuum of care.”

“I want to be able to both meet the clients’ current needs,” he said, “and find out what else may be needed. They’ve probably got more needs than what they contacted us for.”

Headquartered in Jonesboro, CRDC serves Craighead, Cross, Crittenden, Greene, Jackson, Poinsett, St. Francis and Woodruff Counties. The organization, Wooldridge said, is a community action agency. “[It] is tasked with moving the poverty needle,” he said, “and taking folks from poverty out of poverty.”

Wooldridge said CRDC offers several programs aimed at assisting low-income individuals with various needs. “We do energy assistance – LIHEAP,” he said, “housing, and we administer the Community Services Block Grants.”

LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The program assists eligible low-income households with heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs. According to benefits.gov, Community Services Block Grants (CSBGs) are designed to help low-income individuals and families secure and retain meaningful employment; attain an adequate education; improve the use of available income, obtain adequate housing, obtain emergency assistance, including health and nutrition services; remove obstacles which block the achievement of self-sufficiency; and achieve greater participation in the affairs of the community. Wooldridge said the grants come from the federal government to the states, and then to agencies like CRDC.

Some of the other programs CRDC manages include:

Northeast Arkansas Transportation (NEAT), which provides transport for shopping, medical, socialization, employment, education or public services/facilities.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides qualified child and adult care facilities and home centers the opportunity to be reimbursed through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for food served to children or adults in their care.

Regional Prevention Program, to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and provide substance abuse prevention support and programs in CRDC’s regions

Housing Program plays a leading role in advocating for, developing, and managing affordable housing for low- and moderate income families and individuals in the region

Wooldridge said that, regrettably, the offices of CRDC are not yet open to the public. Those needing services, however, may call the Jackson County office at (870) 523-5474 for information and advice on what’s available. They may also arrange for a staff member to bring out whatever applications may be required or pick up those already filled out. Individuals may also email CRDC at crdc@crdcnea.com.

The mission of the Crowley’s Ridge Development Council is to create opportunities for disadvantaged individuals and families to achieve greater self-sufficiency.

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