News & Events

EVERYBODY COUNTS – Wednesday, January 24, 2018

In an effort to help end homelessness for you or others in the community, WCMCA will be conducting a count of those who do not have a safe, stable and secure place to sleep on Wednesday, January 24, 2018.  If you know of anyone who sleeps in a car, tent, camper, truck, shed, an abandoned building or somewhere else not intended for housing, please visit WCMCA’s office in either Elbow Lake or Alexandria between the hours of 8:00 am – 4:30 pm or contact West Central MN Communities Action at 320-304-3458 or 800-492-4805, Ext. 3.

You can be screened to find out if you are eligible for any housing assistance we have.  While there may not be immediate openings, you will receive priority when an opening occurs.  Those completing the screening will receive $5.00, and have an opportunity to receive breakfast or some type of sack lunch.

WCMCA’s Free Tax Program

West Central MN Communities Action, Inc. offers free tax preparation services to families who earn less than $53,000 per year and individuals who earn less than $30,000.  These services are by appointment by calling 218-685-7004 or 800-492-4805, Ext. 9 beginning on Tuesday, January 16 ,2018.

For more information, please go to WCMCA’s Free Tax Program webpage.

MNSure Open Enrollment has begun!

MNSure Open Enrollment has begun and WCMCA can help.  Please contact Jill Amundson at 218.685.7038 to set-up an appointment.

Below are a few things you need to know about MNSure:

  • Consumers can start applying and enrolling for 2018 QHP coverage at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, November 1.  A complete listing of marketplace hours for open enrollment is available on Assister Central. (Remember: DO NOT submit an application for 2018 QHP coverage prior to 8 a.m. on November 1. If this has happened, the consumer will need to call to have their case closed and then re-apply once open enrollment begins.)
  • MNsure’s Contact Center, Assister Resource Center and Broker Line will all open at 8 a.m. on November 1. A complete listing of open enrollment hours is available on Assister Central.
  • Save time and help keep the ARC and Broker phone lines moving during this very busy time by using the updated Case Status Request (CSR) form to check on the status of an application, renewal, enrollment, life event changes, (and AORs for brokers)! Review the policy for navigators/CACs and brokers online.
  • The new drug preferences feature on MNsure’s plan shopping tool goes live October 31. More information on the tool is available in the slides from the webinar on “MNsure’s New Tools for Open Enrollment.”
  • The plan enrollment look-up tool will go live November 1. Remember that it may take 48 hours for enrollment data to be available through the tool. More information on the tool is available in the slides from the webinar on “MNsure’s New Tools for Open Enrollment.”


Data Breach Alert

Authored by Nadia Kovacs, Symantec employee

Equifax has announced that cybercriminals have exploited a vulnerability in their website, allowing them to gain access to certain files. The data breach appears to have taken place from mid-May through July 2017.  The company discovered the unauthorized access on July 29 of this year.

Cybercriminals stole names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. In some cases, driver’s license numbers and even, credit card numbers were accessed.  During the company’s investigation of this breach, it was also found that there was access to some personal information for some UK and Canadian residents.

How do you know if you have been involved in a data breach?

Usually, data breaches are disclosed via the company’s press release, which reaches news outlets in no time. If you hear about a breach involving an institution you do business with, contact the organization in question to check whether your data has been compromised. You can visit the organization’s website to see if there is a statement about the breach with any instructions about what to do next, or you can call the company’s customer service phone number.

Helping protect yourself in the event of a data breach

You may not know if you have been affected by a breach, so your best action is to be proactive. You can use the tips below to stay ahead of the bad guys and know what to look out for.

  • Routinely monitor all of your financial accounts for suspicious activities, such as transactions you did not make. If your institution offers account activity alerts via text or email, sign up for them.
  • Cybercriminals can now use this data to access other online accounts you may have via password reset questions.  These questions usually ask you personal information about yourself such as a parent’s maiden name, previous addresses and other details. If you have used any of this data in those security questions, you should change those questions immediately.
  • If the information that was leaked in the breach was as a Social Security number or other personally identifiable information, you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your credit report. This will prevent other institutions from accessing your report entirely, which will prevent opening any new credit lines or credit extensions under your name. Also be sure to contact the Social Security Administration if dealing with a data breach that involves your SSN about next steps.
  • If you do encounter suspicious activity on your account, contact your bank immediately and inform them of the activity as well as the fact that your information was exposed in a breach. Secondly, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and file a report.
  • If a password was involved in the breach- change it.

Breaches are common these days, the payoff for cybercriminals may be lucrative. As a result, it can be helpful if you add another layer of protection to your digital life by using an identity theft protection service. Such services can help protect your personal information by sending you alerts If suspicious activity is identified within their network, or if new accounts are opened with your Social Security number. LifeLock is one such comprehensive service.

The unique combination of digital security by Norton Security and identity theft protection by LifeLock redefines what safety means in a connected world. These are just a few of the precautions one can take to help protect against identity theft.


Disclaimers and references:
This article is authored by an employee of Norton by Symantec.
No one can prevent all identity theft.
† LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, helps organizations, governments and people secure their most important data wherever it lives. Likewise, a global community of more than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton suite of products for protection at home and across all of their devices.
Copyright © 2017 Symantec Corporation. Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, the Checkmark Logo, Norton, Norton by Symantec, LifeLock, and the Lockman Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the United States and other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Grant County Food Connection a Success!

The Grant County Food Connection occurred on Wednesday, March 29 at the main office of West Central MN Communities Action, Inc. in Elbow Lake.

Nearly 10,000 pounds of food was distributed:  45 home deliveries were made to home-bound seniors and 68 households attended the food drop.  Funding for the food distribution was provided by the Elbow Lake Community Healthcare Auxiliary.

Thank you to all of the volunteers from the local community and organizations (Wendell Fire Department, USDA, FSA, Grant County Social Services, Eagle Bank, WCA Schools, Vinco, University of Minnesota, Grant County HRA and the Healthcare Auxiliary).

Thank you to all of the volunteers for their hard work!

Volunteers from the Wendell Fire Department and Eagle Bank setting up for the food distribution.

Volunteers from the Elbow Lake community, USDA and Eagle Bank packing boxes for senior deliveries.

Student volunteers from WCA Schools  (l to r):  John Barber, Ross Anderson and Dawson Staples

Ready Ride – A friendly lift for senior citizens

A friendly lift for senior citizens

When Carolyn Navratil (right) needed a ride to the hospital in Fargo, West Central Minnesota Communities Action’s Ready Ride program put her in contact with Georgia Nelson (left), who volunteers as a driver. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)


When Carolyn Navratil had heart surgery in January, she was told she wouldn’t be able to drive for three weeks. Yet the hospital in Fargo scheduled her for another appointment just two weeks later, which left Navratil in a bit of a predicament.

 “I didn’t have anybody who could afford to take a whole day off work (to drive me to the hospital),” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Then Navratil remembered a program she had heard of called Ready Ride, which matches volunteer drivers with senior citizens needing a ride in Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties.

The program from West Central Minnesota Communities Action works in partnership funded by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Though rides to medical appointments are a common need, social obligations or other errands are also part of the program.

 Through Ready Ride, Navratil’s ride to Fargo was organized and she was contacted by volunteer driver Georgia Nelson.

“They coordinated it and I got a call back in a couple days telling me what it would cost and how it would work and giving me the name of the driver,” Navratil said. “She called me and introduced herself and got directions to pick me up.”

Nelson says her experience being a volunteer for the program has been positive.

“Before getting involved with Ready Ride, I was thinking I should be doing more community service but didn’t want to be tied down to a schedule,” Nelson said. “This was the perfect thing because I can kind of work it around whatever else is happening. They call and if you can do it, you can do it. And if you’re busy, you say, ‘Sorry, I can’t.'”

 According to Navratil, Nelson was a stellar driver, as she was on time and made sure all Navratil’s needs were met.

“(After picking me up from the hospital) she asked if there was anything she could do, and I said, ‘Well, I do need a prescription they wrote for me at Target,'” Navratil recalled. “She stopped and we went in and got it. She went above and beyond.”

Ready Ride has about 35 volunteers, with some only available for nearby trips, while others are willing to drive to the Twin Cities or Fargo-Moorhead.

“We prefer a 48-hour advance notice,” said Nicole Melaaf, volunteer coordinator. “For a long distance, the more notice the better.”

Ready Ride drivers are reimbursed for their mileage at the rate set by the IRS, currently 53.5 cents per mile, or they can donate that money back to the program

“We have a pretty good base of volunteers, but we need to get the word out to riders,” Melaaf said.

To schedule a ride, call (218) 685-7433 (RIDE).