BEMIDJI -- An agency dedicated to helping residents of Beltrami and Cass Counties continued to do so during the coronavirus pandemic and has been honored for its work by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

Bi-County Community Action Programs of Beltrami and Cass Counties, along with 23 similar agencies, were recognized by Walz in a proclamation marking May 2021 as Community Action Month. Such agencies provide school readiness, family services, rental and utility assistance, energy-efficiency improvements and academic and construction training.

"Community action agencies have worked tirelessly over the past year to meet some of the most pressing needs caused by COVID-19, including, but not limited to providing rental, mortgage and utility assistance, food delivery and socially distanced food distribution events, and broadband and technology support," Walz said in the proclamation.

In a release, BI-CAP Executive Director Barb Moran said during this month the agency is reflecting "on the impact BI-CAP and our network has had on families in our communities. Last year along, we served 3,520 households, representing over 8,000 individuals in our service areas of Beltrami and Cass Counties."

In speaking to the Pioneer this week, Moran said the agency, like most businesses and organizations, had to change the way they operate.

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"We had to transition our services and find new ways to deliver them," Moran said. "Along with doing work from home, we also did a lot to work with clients remotely. We also had more than 40 grants, and they all come with different guidelines and regulations, so we had to navigate what they meant for each department."

Moran said BI-CAP was also able to provide extra housing services in the past year thanks to the extra resources from the state and federal governments.