Ready For Action in Ipswich

Action Inc has been active on Cape Ann since 1965.  They have offices in many towns throughout the area, including recently opened sites in Ipswich and Rockport.

In a press release regarding the new offices, Action Inc. Executive Director Tim Riley said, “Although Action has served Ipswich and Rockport residents for more than 40 years, these new satellite offices will make our services accessible to a greater number of people.  We expect to deliver services to 30% more people in Ipswich and Rockport this year.”

The funding for the offices in Ipswich and Rockport came from the Stimulus Bill signed into law by President Obama in February.

The Action Inc office in Ipswich is located at the Birth to Three Family Center at 15 Market Street, Suite 4.  Office hours are on Monday (10AM-5PM) and Wednesday (Noon-7PM).

More important than the office hours is the office phone number – (978-879-3667).  That number has voice mail (I know, I tried.) and the woman in charge of the office, Harmoni White, assured me in a phone interview that all calls will be answered.  “If I don’t answer right away,” she said, “I’m probably researching the problem. I will get back to everyone who calls.”

Trying to describe what Action Inc does is a bit like explaining what a stay-home mom does – a little bit of everything.  They are especially intent on helping the Cape Ann area needy of all ages in practical ways. 

Harmoni told me that she is getting plenty of calls about needs in Ipswich.  “Once we put out our information in Ipswich school newsletters the calls picked up considerably. Each call usually describes a particular need and I try to get that person help. I’m psyched to be able to do it.” 

I learned from Harmoni that her passion for helping others was part of her background.  “My grandmother directed the Teen Center in Beverly and my mother was involved in foster care.  I have about 40 brothers and sisters as a result.  I have also lived in public housing as well as on welfare and know about navigating for help.  The important thing is to keep going.”

Harmoni told me that the biggest barrier she has been confronted with in Ipswich is pride.  “This is a town where people are used to meeting their own needs,” she said.  “To some here, asking for organized assistance is the very last thing they would do especially for those who have never been on the receiving end before.”

She added, “Part of it is their worry that others will be alerted to their condition of need.  I cannot tell you how many people, with obvious shortages of money from job reductions or losses will refuse to apply for food stamps.  They are afraid that someone at the local supermarket might see them using food stamps. It is unfortunate.” 

Obviously, for Action Inc to live up to its name, needs needing to be addressed, must be presented.  Action Inc is already serving over 3,000 families in Cape Ann and it sounds as if they are ready, willing, and able to help if allowed into the mix. 

Action Inc has a website and there is always the Ipswich office phone number (978-879-3667) for those searching for information and help.

 ( This article appeared in The Town Common in December 30, 2009. )

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