Families Moving Forward

Payton's Produce

Les and Christy Payton followed their dream and started a produce business, but with little business experience, the company failed. They lost everything and became homeless. The Paytons found their way to Lower Columbia CAP (LCCAP, a Community Action agency), which had developed an array of asset building services.

Les and Christy attended a free eleven week Money Smart course, learned financial management skills and developed a savings plan. They also opened an Individual Development Account (IDA), where savings are matched 2 to 1. Their $2000 became $6000, which they used to restart their business. They opened a produce stand in the summer of 2009, working with local farmers and community gardens to market fresh produce.

LCCAP’s asset building services were expanded with ARRA funds into its Financial Independence Center, that continues to support the Paytons. LCCAP Executive Director Ilona Kerby said, “We are in the business of helping people succeed in realizing a better life for themselves and their families. Their success is our success.

Paytons Produce PP Storefront

Simon's Story

Simon voluntarily entered a treatment facility in 2009 after realizing that he needed to redirect his life. He had spent the past few years in and out of jail on drug related charges, unable to hold down a job because of his addiction and moving from shelter to shelter.

“I became sick and tired of being on the street. I was driving my mom crazy and the people I loved had lost faith in me and I missed my family. I had family that loved me, but I wasn’t loving myself. I chose to go to treatment and change my life.”


There were current Corp members at the same treatment facility who gave Simon the information to set up an interview. “I saw Corps members coming and going every day, they seemed to have direction and purpose and I wanted to be a part of that”

Simon was interviewed and hired on as a work training enrollee in November of 2009. He met with his case manager and identified the goals he wanted to accomplish during his 12 months in the program: To regain his driver’s license, to address and pay his child support debt, to obtain permanent housing and to learn the skills necessary to maintain employment and build a career. With the help from staff and his case manager, Simon was able to move into his own apartment and obtain his driver’s license within 8 months.

“The help I got from my case manager was amazing. She gave me the tools I needed to meet my goals. She pointed me in the right direction and set me up with the right people and supported me every step. By earning a wage while working full time, I was able to be personally responsible for cleaning up the messes I had made while in my addiction. I could pay my child support, my traffic tickets and my rent. I wasn’t getting hand outs.”

Because of his diligence and focus in addressing his personal challenges and his hard work and reliability out in the field, Simon was offered the position of Crew Lead, a promotion that offered higher pay and more responsibility.

“I never did this kind of physical work before. When it came to jobs, I guess I just chose what was easy to get. This job challenges me in every way. Being surrounded by clean and sober people and having the support from staff, I know I’m in the right place.”

Simon has been with the Conservation Corps for 2 years. He now leads his own crew, trains new hires and assists in managing projects.

“The Conservation Corps has given me a solid foundation. I’m a better father to my children now. They can be proud of me and I am a positive example for them. I have earned back the love and support of my family. I now know what I’m capable of. I know I’m a hard worker and that I’m responsible. When I leave here, I have the skills and work ethic to start a career.”

“The Conservation Corps is the best thing that has happened to me. They have given me a new outlook on my life and I am very thankful.”

Share YOUR Story!

Do you have a Community Action Success Story?

We want to hear about it!

Email us your story and picture.