Click on a question to view the answer.
Semcac began as the South East Minnesota Citizens Action Council in 1966. The agency’s Board of Directors shortened the agency’s legal name to Semcac in 1995. The agency now goes by its legal name, “Semcac,” and no longer uses the longer name from its origins.
YES. Semcac uses donations from generous individuals and organizations to help achieve our mission and help southeastern MN citizens during their times of greatest need. Donations can be made with many different forms of payment. All donations are fully tax deductible, we are a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Donation info is available on the Ways to Give tab – Donate page.
- To make a donation online using a credit card: visit GiveMN website.
- To make a donation with a check, cash or money order: Bring your donation to any Semcac office/county contact center OR bring or mail your donation to the Rushford office: Semcac, PO Box 549, 204 S. Elm Street, Rushford, MN 55971 (Please do not mail cash.)
You will receive a thank you letter and tax deductible receipt. Thank you for your generosity!
Semcac has an E-news mailing list that you can sign up for with an email address. Text Semcac to 22828 to sign up OR visit our website to sign up. You will receive the bi-monthly Semcac Sentinel newsletter when you join our mailing list.
Semcac is funded through Federal, State and local dollars. The Agency works collectively throughout the region and partners with United Ways, philanthropic organizations, county, and city, corporate and individual resources to help reach the communities with the services that are provided.
All fees are based on your income and how many people that income supports. Semcac also encourages making small payments if you cannot afford to pay in full. But, chances are favorable that you’ll qualify for a program that may pay for your exam and birth control method.
Read more about the MN Family Planning Program, offering free birth control & services.
Semcac Family Planning Clinic bills many insurance plans, but there are a few we don’t bill because the insurance plan does not consider Semcac “in network,” these include: Mayo, Medicare & Dean. We are happy to help with any other questions you have about your insurance coverage.
Minnesota State Statute allows minors to receive family planning services without parental consent. Just like any other medical facility, confidentiality is priority.
First, you will need to make an appointment to be seen by the clinician. She’ll get to know you by asking questions about your health and then will perform an exam. She’ll help you in deciding what method will be the best for you. You’ll need to return for an exam every year to be sure the method is still working for you.
(In some cases, the “exam” may include listening to the patient’s heart and lungs, only. This depends upon the patient’s age along with some other factors.)
Call the clinic to tell us you need a refill. We will transfer you to the refill line and have the prescription filled within the next 24 hours.
Multiple birth control methods are available at the Semcac Clinic. Meeting with the clinician will help you decide which method will work the best for you.
Give the method (pill, patch, ring, etc.) a few months for your body to get used to it. If it’s still not working for you after a few months, call us to set up an appointment to change to a more suitable method.
Yes. The presence of blood does not change the results of any tests performed, however if the patient is uncomfortable with an exam during a period, that part can always be done at a later time.
Energy Assistance Program
Applications are available to download on the Semcac website, at your local Semcac office or call 1-800-944-3281 to have one mailed to you.
You can mail your application to Semcac, PO Box 549, Rushford, MN 55971 or drop it off in any of our county office locations.
A blank application can be mailed to you or you can download a copy of the application on our website at https://www.semcac.org/energy/eap-application/
Complete the application completely. Include income verification for the 3 calendar months prior to the date the application was signed. So if the application was signed in September, we would need income from June, July and August. Fixed income like social security or pension only need one month of documentation but wages and unemployment need all three months. We are required to look at pay dates, not pay periods, and gross income, not net. Also, minor children who receive social security/SSI income- and you need to send proof.
Yes, everyone in the household ages 1 and up will need to provide their Social Security number. If you do not have a Social Security number, you will need to provide documentation of acceptable alternatives.
You will need to fill out the verification of income and expenses worksheet. Please contact the Rushford office to get one mailed to you. 800-944-3281
Applications are processed in the order they are received. At this time it can take 8-10 weeks to process a complete application.
No, once your application is reviewed, you will receive a letter regarding the status of your application.
Contact the Semcac Rushford office at 800-944-3281 for funding availability and referral resources.
Pregnant women and families with children from birth to 4 years of age.
Semcac Head Start offers Center-based and Home-based programs. Both options of the Semcac Head Start program promote development of skills that children need to be healthy, successful learners. We know that young children need to have experiences with language development, literacy, math, science, creative arts, social/emotional development, physical/health development and satisfaction in learning new things. Healthy habits and self-help skills are emphasized as well.
Center Based Option
Children attend a half-day (3.5 hour) or a full day (7 or 8 hour day, depending on location) program at a licensed center four days per week from September to May.
• Children are provided hands on learning activities that prepare them for kindergarten.
• Teachers and parents work together to evaluate and plan for the children’s learning.
• Parents participate by volunteering in the classroom, being a part of the program governance or working on other activities.
• Families are supported with medical, dental and nutrition services to promote healthy living.
• Parents are given support to strengthen families and achieve goals through community connections.
A nutritious breakfast or lunch and a snack are provided under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Child Nutrition Program. In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, Semcac Head Start is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 202050-9410, or call 1-800-795-3272 or 1-202-720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Home Based Option – Home Visits
This program reaches families expecting a baby and/or children birth-three years. Services are offered year round with a home –based educator coming to your home for 1.5 hours a week.
• Home-based educator supports the parent in his/her role as their child’s teacher.
• Parent, with assistance from the Educator, develops activities to meet the individual needs of their child(ren).
• Home visitor helps parents understand how daily routines and activities, things in the home and resources in the community can be used as learning activities for the whole family.
• Families are supported with Head Start comprehensive services (health, family support, etc.)
• Center Socializations are offered every 2 weeks for 90 minutes. These provide opportunities for families to get together to form friendships and support systems. Children play together in activities designed by Educator and parent. Nutritious meals and education also provided.
Semcac Head Start staff will notify families within two weeks after a complete application is received. If after four weeks the family has not received notification, please call our toll-free number 866-808-0260.
Eligibility criteria are based primarily on the family income and the child’s age as well as whether a child has a disability. Indicators of a child and/or family at-risk, such as single parent family, a parent with special needs, referrals from social services or public health, and living in a location that would prevent them from experiencing pre-school, will be considered. The criteria define the children/ families who will be given priority for recruitment and selection. Each year the criteria is reviewed with parents in the program and, if needed, updates are completed with their input.
The degree to which a family falls below poverty is rated. Income eligibility is determined according to the Department of Health and Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines released each year in February.At least 10% of the total number of enrollment opportunities will be made available to children with disabilities. Disabilities must be documented.
Your child will be put on a waiting list and will be considered as space becomes available. Children on the list will be ranked based on their original eligibility rating.
- Individualized education,
- referrals for children with special needs,
- health and nutrition information including nutritious meals and snacks,
- community resources referral for families, and
- many volunteering opportunities.
We have Head Start Centers in Austin, Caledonia, Kasson, LaCrescent, Lanesboro/Eagle Bluff, Le Roy, Owatonna, St. Charles and Winona. We also have Early Head Start Centers in Austin and Winona. And, home-based Early Head Start is offered in Fillmore, Houston, Mower and Winona Counties.
New sites could be offered at additional locations depending on the volume of interested applicants. Stay updated with new changes and locations on Semcac’s Head Start webpage.
Applications are accepted year round. Interested families are encouraged to apply early because openings fill quickly. Call your local Semcac Contact Center for more assistance and to obtain your Head Start application.
Our staff is ready to help you with these few steps:
1. Complete a simple application. You may print the application or fill it out directly on our website. (This does not guarantee your child’s enrollment; see directions.)
2. Verify your income status.
3. Confirm your child has the required immunizations.
4. If needed, document the special needs of your child.
Our priority is to serve families who meet federal income guidelines.
Call your local Semcac Contact Center/ Semcac office located in your county.
Housing Rehab Loan Programs
To request an application for the Rehab Loan Program, call Cindy at 507-864-8207.
Semcac’s Community Development Department administers housing rehab loans for owner-occupied homes:
- The MN Housing Rehab Loan Program is income based according to household size. Please call for current income limits.
MN Housing Rehab Loan Program: The maximum loan amount is $27,000 for up to 15 years at no interest. This loan places a mortgage on the property that is forgivable after 15 years if the home has remained the owner’s principal place of residence. For mobile homes in mobile home parks, the mortgage term is 10 years. If it is determined that a home has lead paint present that must be addressed, an additional amount up to $10,000 may be used for this purpose.
- For the MN Housing Rehab Loan Program: Repairs are determined by a home inspection and also a lead risk paint inspection if the home was built in 1978 or before. Lead paint issues, health, safety and energy conservation are the top priorities.
Meals on Wheels - Seniors
Any person age 60 and older confined to their home or unable to prepare a balanced meal. Spouses are also included regardless of age.
Meals are prepared at Senior Dining sites or catered from the hospital, nursing home or restaurant- whichever is available in the area being served.
Friendly volunteers! Our volunteers are very dedicated, caring and timely. Meals are delivered during lunchtime, usually between 11:00am and 12:30pm.
A participant may contribute as much as they can, up to the full price of the meal. No one is refused a meal because of the inability to pay. Food stamps/EBT cards are welcome forms of payment.
Please view the Meals on Wheels location list, as some communities have private programs with which we do not compete. Semcac Meals on Wheels program provides a hot, nutritious meal to each household while simultaneously providing an opportunity for someone to check on the general well being of the senior recipient.
Outreach & Emergency Services
Semcac has contact centers located in Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Steele, and Winona counties. The Field Service Staff at the contact centers can answer your questions about Head Start, Rental Assistance, Crisis Assistance, Energy Assistance, Transportation, County Assistance Programs, and other resources within your county that are not operated by Semcac.
No. Semcac does not have a rental assistance program in Olmsted County; you should call Three River’s Community Action at 1-800-277-8418.
Semcac rental assistance programs vary by county. To find out what rental assistance programs are offered and if funding is available in your county it is best to call the Field Service Worker at your local Semcac office.
Car repair funds through Semcac vary by county. In order to receive assistance for car repair the applicant must have proof of current car insurance and a valid driver’s license. Assistance from Semcac must also be arranged prior to the repairs being completed on the vehicle. To find out more specific details on receiving car repair assistance through Semcac, and to find out if funding is available in your county contact the Field Service Worker at your local Semcac county office/ contact center.
Semcac has a Shelter in FreebornCounty. If you are interested in learning more about the Shelter please call the Freeborn County Office. Semcac also has a time limited Transitional Housing Program in Winona and Freeborn Counties. You must be a resident of Winona or Freeborn Counties to apply for the Transitional Housing Program. Please call the Semcac office/ Contact Center in Winona or Freeborn County to find out about openings and specific program guidelines.
The Freeborn County Semcac Contact Center/ Semcac office has a Spanish Interpreter. She is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to noon. Arrangements for interpreters to assist with applications for Semcac programs can be made in ALL of our county offices.
Eligibility for rental assistance from Semcac is based on numerous factors. Some of these include the availability of program funds, having a written eviction notice, income twice as much as rent, and a denial from your county emergency assistance program. You will also be asked about your financial situation leading up to your eviction notice. Contact the Field Service Worker in your county to discuss your individual situation.
All you need to bring with you is a piece of mail or an ID with your current address on it, and you also need to know birth dates of everyone in your household.
You can visit the food shelf one time per month. If you need to make an extra visit in a month you should contact your local food shelf staff to discuss options for a second visit.
You will get about fifteen pounds of food per person in your household. There may be extra items like fresh produce available for you to get above and beyond the fifteen pounds per person.
You are allowed to pick which items you would like to take home for your household. Some items, such as meat products, will have a limit on how many you are allowed to take.
Senior & Caregiver Advocacy
YES! Your information is kept confidential and we do not share your information with any other parties unless we receive prior consent from you and it is necessary.
At this time, we do not. However, we are applying to become MNsure Community Partner Assistants, which means we will be trained and approved to assist with MNsure enrollments. Stay tuned!
We will provide you with referrals to other agencies and organizations who can help you to enroll via MNsure until we are approved to provide this service.
Yes! We offer a course called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. You can take this FREE six course series (1 day a week for 6 weeks, approximately 1.5 hours per session) and receive a Powerful Tools for Caregivers certificate of completion from Semcac. The course is designed as an educational program to help caregivers to take care of themselves while caring for an adult loved one. Anyone helping to care for a parent, spouse or friend will benefit.Please contact the caregiver advocate in your county if you are interested. We are working to schedule our next course, when we have enough interested parties, as soon as possible!
Fillmore & Houston County caregivers, contact: Carrie Enright at 507-475-1987 or email@example.com
Steele & Dodge County caregivers, contact: Melissa Almer at 507-450-8848 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about the Powerful Tools for Caregivers course.
Anyone age 60 and over is welcome. Spouses are automatically included regardless of age. The service, facility and benefits of this program are for the use of all older people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.
Diners are given the opportunity to donate toward the cost of the meal. Donation guidelines are posted at the sites. No one is denied a meal because on inability to contribute. Food Stamp EBT cards are welcome.
Contact your local dining site between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon to reserve your meal. Dining sites are listed on the Senior Dining page under the Senior Services menu.
Semcac Senior Dining receives federal and state funding under a contract with the Southeastern Minnesota Area Agency on Aging. Local contributions from counties, cities, United Way agencies, and business and individual donations, including participant donations, are vital for the program’s continuation as well.
Volunteer Driver Program - Transportation
Just call 1-800-528-7622 and speak with a dispatcher to get enrolled and to see if you qualify.
We will transport you to any appointment that has been approved by the county, or through your insurance.
We will do our best to transport you to all of your medical appointments.
Unfortunately, since this is a volunteer based service, we do not have vehicles that are able to accommodate wheelchairs. Volunteers use their own personal vehicles to provide this service. However, if you are able to transfer from the wheelchair to the car with little to no help, we can provide you with a ride. If you are not able to do so, please contact us to schedule a ride using our public transportation buses, Rolling Hills Transit. All of the Rolling Hills Transit buses are wheelchair accessible.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering to give rides! Please call Jessica at 507-634-4490.
If you cannot reach Jessica, please call 1-800-528-7622
YES you do! You decide which days and times you would like to drive. You also decide where you are able to drive to and where you are not comfortable going/driving. We work with your schedule.
You are reimbursed for your mileage and for parking fees. You may also get reimbursed for meals if they fall within the guidelines. We hold a recognition event for all volunteer drivers at the end of the year. We celebrate your hard work and dedication throughout the year.
To apply for Weatherization you need to complete an Energy Assistance application. You can make a note on the application that you are interested in Weatherization or we will periodically run reports from the Energy Assistance database to update our waiting list. Applicants are then placed on a priority list sorted by heating costs and county of residence. If the house has been weatherized since September 1994, we cannot re-weatherize the home.
Weatherizing a home means sealing the gaps and leaks in a home’s thermal envelope that can cause energy to be wasted. Measures can include putting weather-stripping around doors, adding sealing around windows, putting more insulation in attics and sidewalls, install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and repair/replace furnace and/or water heater. We work to decrease energy bills by making homes more energy efficient.
The Weatherization process begins with a pre-audit where an energy auditor does a brief inspection of the home to ensure it is a candidate for our program. If it passes, we then schedule a full energy audit that takes approximately 4 hours (depending on the size of the home). The energy auditor will conduct many diagnostic tests on the home and mechanical equipment to evaluate the home’s energy efficiencies as well as identify any safety hazards. The auditor will discuss their findings with the client, write up the work order for our crew and to determine the savings to investment ratio of the work recommended, the crew foreman will contact the client to set up a time for them to perform the work and lastly another energy auditor will schedule a final inspection to ensure all work was done properly and satisfactorily.
Yes. The Weatherization program is a 12-month program.
Yes, if you qualify for energy assistance and your home has not been weatherized since September 1994. It is a grant from the federal Department of Energy. Not a deferred loan, no liens, no pay-back, etc.
There are very few things that the homeowner can decline for us to still continue with the Weatherization job. State and Federal guidelines mandate us to complete all work orders with a savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) of 1 or greater. We want to make sure each home is achieving the most energy savings and if a work order with a SIR of 1 or more is declined this would not occur.
If there is a health concern that warrants the homeowners request to switch fuels we can submit the request to the State Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources for approval.
Our funding with water heaters is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have no hot water or the water heater is leaking, contact us at 1-800-944-3207 and we will determine if funding is available.
It really depends on each home’s situation, but not typically. Each work order (with the exception of health & safety items) needs to have a savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) or pay-back of 7 years or less. We enter the job specifications in a State-approved software program that determines this utilizing the conditions of each home. Typically doors and windows do not calculate a SIR therefore we are unable to replace them.
No, roof repair or replacements are not something Weatherization can assist with.
We will remove a portion of the siding and drill the hole in the wood portion of the wall. We then stuff the hole with fiberglass insulation and install a plug to close up the hole and replace the siding.
If the home is stucco then, yes, we would drill directly through the stucco and patch it to the best of our ability. This would be discussed with the homeowner in detail before proceeding.
No, sump pumps are not part of the Weatherization program scope of work.