As many working individuals are still in poverty and utilize assistance programs, Lakes and Pines Community Action Council is making adjustments to better meet their needs. 

Families and individuals in East Central Minnesota will soon be able to access services at a time that meets their schedules. Effective Oct. 2, Lakes and Pines Community Action Council will expand its hours, from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The vast majority of young families who we serve are working families,” said Lakes and Pines’ Executive Director Bob Benes. “Office hours that are working hours don’t really work for them. Just this morning I arrived at 7:20, and there was an individual in need of services standing and waiting in the rain. Or when I’m leaving at 4:30, there’s often someone pulling in.

“That happens way too often. Traditional hours aren’t working for a large portion of the people we serve. This change speaks to a core value of Community Action: locally designed to meet local needs, changing our model right up to how we deliver services.”

Working needs

Benes said that is reflective of the fact that working families are increasingly in need of services. “The US Census Bureau just released a report showing that 2.7 million individuals in our country worked all year long, and are still in poverty. That’s up from the year before, which was 2.4 million. In East Central Minnesota we have a proportionate number of people in that situation,” he said.

“We’re using existing staff to increase our service hours, and doing so without expanded funding. Our light bill might go up a bit, but we’ll absorb that. For a lot of our staff, this meets their needs too. And as we move into the future we’ll be hiring staff as well.”

Lakes and Pines’ 55th Annual Meeting takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Braham Event Center. “It’s an opportunity to bring our communities together around issues that affect us all,” said Benes. “it’s always an eye-opener for a lot of attendees.” 

“If you’re struggling economically, don’t worry about a program title or what time of day it is: contact us.”

Lakes and Pines’ mission is to build prosperous communities by serving local families and individuals  in their pursuit of self-reliance. The organization serves Aitkin, Carlton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine Counties. Its main office is located at 1700 Maple Avenue East in Mora. Contact them at 320-679-1800, or online at

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