Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on nonprofit organizations that improve Santa Rosa County residents’ quality of life.
MILTON — The Tri-County Community Council aims to unite the public and private sectors to improve residents' quality of life. The group seeks new opportunities for success and aims to eliminate poverty.
Tri-County was founded in 1965 as a Community Action Agency that developed and implemented programs to serve the poor and eliminate poverty in Holmes, Walton and Washington counties. In 1997, Tri-County Council was designated as the CAA for Jackson and Okaloosa counties.
Tri-County was selected as the CAA for Santa Rosa County in 2000, and in 2015, it was selected to be the Coordinated Transportation Coordinator for Santa Rosa County.
Tri-County's home office is located in Bonifay; its mission is “to identify and provide needed services to the citizens in our communities,” according to its website.
Executive Director Joel Paul said the organization’s target audience is low-income residents. Tri-County helps fund power bills, rent and food in emergency situations. They even help people go back to work, according to Paul.
“We help people in crisis that are below middle income guidelines and sometimes they have nowhere else to turn,” Paul said.
Tri-County services seven counties in Northwest Florida and provides transportation to low-income residents in Santa Rosa County who don’t have vehicles, are disabled or are elderly.
“We provide mostly medical trips,” Paul said. “Sometimes we help people get to work.”
Paul said Tri-County is one of those quiet companies not many people know about, but when people find out everything it does, they are surprised. The organization administers several programs throughout the state.
In Santa Rosa County, it administers the following programs:Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides assistance to meet the cost of home heating and cooling needs for eligible individuals. In addition, it provides assistance in emergency situations to eligible individuals and families who are without home energy or in danger of losing home energy during a crisis. Community Services Block Grant, which provides community services through Tri-County including self-sufficiency, transportation, education, supportive services, youth development, emergency assistance, food pantry and teen gifts.