Learn About the Fair Housing Law

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Community Action Planning Council and the Jefferson County Planning Department are hosting an Annual Fair Housing Roundtable in recognition of Fair Housing Month on April 25, 2017, 9:00 to 11:00 AM at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES (Conference Rooms A & B), located at 20104 Arsenal Street in Watertown.

The topics for this year’s roundtable discussion are “Fair Housing during Changing Times” with Sally Santangelo, Executive Director of CNY Fair Housing, and “Military Rights” with Deanna Nelson, Assistant Attorney General in Charge.  Ms. Santangelo will provide an overview of revisions to the Fair Housing Law and how the changes impact Fair Housing in our community.  Ms. Nelson will discuss housing issues involving military servicemembers in our community, including practical implementation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act as it impacts housing.  After the presentation, there will be an opportunity for a question and answer session.

For more information on the Fair Housing Roundtable or to RSVP, please call Community Action Planning Council at 315.782.4900 ext. 252.

Sally Santangelo, Executive Director of CNY Fair Housing, talks Fair Housing law at last year’s Roundtable.

NNY Community Foundation Support Critical to Food Pantry

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Can you imagine lacking the resources to buy enough food for your family? When hunger becomes a reality, north country residents turn to their local food pantries.  Access to pantries is especially critical in the winter months as families contend with the added expense of heating their homes.  Here at Community Action, we operate a busy pantry, serving hundreds of families each month.   Since December, we have distributed food packages equivalent to more than 41,000 meals.

It is challenging to maintain adequate food supplies to meet the need.  Yet today, in spite of a busy winter season, our pantry shelves are stocked and ready for our friends and neighbors, thanks to a generous gift from the Northern NY Community Foundation.  Earlier this year, the Community Foundation announced its continued commitment to local pantries and soup kitchens with a gift of $30,000 to be distributed to organizations throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties.

Our share of this gift comes at a critical time, and we are very grateful for the continued support of the Northern NY Community Foundation, as are the many families who visit the pantry when they have nowhere else to turn.  We offer sincere thanks to all those who support the foundation for making this gift possible.

The pantry at Community Action Planning Council receives financial support from a variety of sources, including the Food Bank of Central NY, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and the Northern New York Community Foundation, as well as donations and food drives coordinated by area businesses and individuals.

Visitors to the food pantry are provided with a five-day supply of food (three meals per day) for each member of the household.  Food packages contain a variety of food items in keeping with nutrition guidelines from the Food Bank of Central New York.  For more information about the Food Pantry or other Community Action services, please contact 315.782.4900, extension 271.

Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project Annual Spring Training

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On Saturday, March 18, Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project will present a full day training titled Pyramid Model Infant Toddler Module 1. This 6.5-hour session is perfect for anyone working in family child care or center-based infant or toddler classrooms. The cost to attend is just $50 and space is limited!  

Click here for a flyer and registration form. If you have questions about this training, please call 315.782.4900, extension 239.

Click here to learn more about the Pyramid Model.

Tax Preparation Services Available

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Community Action is offering free income tax preparation to low and moderate income households. IRS-certified volunteers provide basic income tax return preparation (Forms 1040, 1040-A, 1040-EZ). Tax preparers are knowledgeable about special tax credits, including Earned Income Tax Credit. Electronic filing and direct deposit are offered. To qualify for free tax preparation services, household income must not exceed $54,000. Service is not available to small businesses or military households.

Tax preparation is offered by appointment only. Individuals seeking free tax preparation services should plan to bring a copy of last year’s tax return, income statements (W-2, unemployment forms, 1099), photo ID, social security cards for all persons in the household, bank routing numbers if filing electronically and form 1095-B if purchased health insurance through the NYS Marketplace, as well as any other relevant documents.

Last year, Community Action assisted 900 households through the filing process, helping them to qualify for a total of $1.1 million in refunds.

Tax preparation services available in Watertown and Carthage.  Please call for an appointment.

Community Action Planning Council – 518 Davidson Street Watertown
Tuesdays and Thursdays, February 7 – April 13, 8:45 AM to 2:45 PM
Call 315.782.4900, ext 222 for an appointment in Watertown

American Legion – 415 West Street Carthage
Wednesdays, February 8 – April 13, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Call 315.493.1545 for an appointment in Carthage.

Community Action Launches Early Childhood Professionals Discount Program

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Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project, a program of Community Action Planning Council, announces the launch of an exciting partnership with local businesses in support of Early Childhood Professionals. All of those who work in Registered or Licensed child care facilities in Jefferson and Lewis Counties will receive a card entitling them to special discounts and promotions.

ecp-discount-card-image-2For a list of participating businesses, click here … and keep an eye for the window decal displayed at local businesses.  The artwork for the window decal was created by local artist and Knickerbocker Elementary student, Felicity DelGranado.

Director of Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project Cathy Brodeur, reports, “This program is intended to raise community awareness about the importance of quality early learning experiences, and to recognize the commitment of Early Childhood staff ensuring that children in our community are getting what they need in the crucial first years. Quality child care lets parents work, secure in the knowledge that children are developing skills that will help them succeed in school and beyond”.

We sincerely thank those business who have stepped forward in support of the nearly 600 people who are Early Childhood Professionals in Jefferson and Lewis Counties. If you have questions or would like to participate, please contact Emily Cleaver at 315.782.4900, extension 237.

Holiday Angels Program Now Underway

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Holiday Angels is a collaborative effort of human service agencies, businesses, civic groups and individuals in Jefferson County, working together to ensure that children of low-income families have gifts for Christmas.  Families in need may apply for Holiday Angels at the location within or closest to their home community (sites listed below).  Dates and times at which applications are accepted vary by site. Click here for list of sites.  All sites offer a gift for each child in the family (up to age 16); some sites offer assistance with holiday meals.

  • Salvation Army, Watertown
  • Rohde Center, Adams
  • Antwerp Town Hall, Antwerp
  • VEM Food Pantry, Carthage
  • Presbyterian Church, Chaumont
  • A New Life Church, Depauville
  • Indian River Baptist Church, Philadelphia
  • Dexter Presbyterian Church, Dexter

Families are encouraged to apply early.  The child’s first name, along with gender, age, and Christmas wish, are placed on a paper angel.  No other identifying information is included.

Angels are displayed on the Angel Tree at Salmon Run Mall (December 5 – 16) or announced on Tunes 92.5 FM during the Christmas Crusade 4 Kids campaign (November 14 – December 20). Community members are invited to sponsor a child by selecting a name and Christmas wish from either the Angel Tree or Tunes 92.5 FM.  Unwrapped gifts valued at $25 should be returned, along with the paper angel, to the location from which they were selected – either the Angel Tree at (Salmon Run Mall, Watertown) or Tunes 92.5 FM studios (242 Washington Street, Suite 4A, Watertown).  Community Action Planning Council sorts the gifts which are later picked up by partnering agencies for distribution.

Community Action Planning Council coordinates the Holiday Angels program in partnership with a number of community organizations and businesses, including Bernier Carr Group, Catholic Charities, Emerge, Kiwanis, local food pantries, Jreck Subs, Salmon Run Mall, Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Tunes 92.5 FM and Watertown Urban Mission.

Thanks to the efforts of the many partners of Holiday Angels and the generosity of the local community, 2,182 children in Jefferson County received gifts last year.  For more information about Holiday Angels, call 315.782.4900, extension 222.

Board Member Election Underway

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Community Action Planning Council is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of equal representation in each of three sectors: the low-income population, elected public officials or their designees, and members of the private sector.

Low-income representatives are especially important in developing strategies that address the causes and conditions of poverty in our community. Elected for five-year terms, these representatives look out for the best interest of low-income individuals in Jefferson County.

Currently an election is underway to re-elect Nina Hershey to an additional five-year term, representing the low-income sector.  The general public is invited to participate in the democratic process.  Eligible voters must be at least 18 years of age, reside in Jefferson County and be a member of a low-income household.

Click here to download and print the ballot which includes the candidate’s biography.

Completed ballots may be mailed or delivered to Community Action Planning Council at 518 Davidson Street Watertown, NY 13601.  Ballots must be received by 4:00 PM on October 6, 2016.

For questions or comments about the election process, please contact Dawn Cole at 315.782.4900, ext. 250.

 

Meet New People AND Make a Difference

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Interested in meeting new people?  Want to make a difference in your community?  Consider becoming a volunteer tax preparer.

Community Action Planning Council is seeking volunteers to help provide free income tax preparation services to low to moderate income households in Jefferson County.  Volunteers learn to prepare taxes and make a difference at the same time!

Previous tax preparation experience is not necessary.  Volunteers receive extensive training and earn IRS certification.  Training materials, videos and practice forms are accessible online.  Additional training support is available through the agency’s network of veteran tax preparation volunteers.

Community Action Planning Council offers tax preparation services at various sites throughout Jefferson County.  Last year, volunteers assisted 907 households through the filing process, helping them to qualify for a total of $1,006,580 in refunds.

For more information, contact Community Action Planning Council at 315.782.4900, ext. 250.  Volunteering is rewarding – and fun.  Call today and find out how you can get involved in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

melinda-gisele-and-irs-reps

melinda-gisele-and-irs-reps Agency staff, volunteers and representatives from the IRS gathered on May 23 to celebrate another successful tax season. Pictured, from left: Melinda Gault, executive director, Gisele Young, volunteer tax preparer, Marie Mesmer and Joseph Hayek, IRS representatives.

Help Kids Go Back to School Looking and Feeling Their Best

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Community Action is gearing up for a back-to-school drive, with a focus on “non-traditional” school supplies.

To ensure that children have the resources they need to look and feel their best, we are asking the community to help by donating personal care items.  The next time you go shopping, please purchase an extra item or two for a child in need, such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant or feminine hygiene product.  When you visit your hair dresser, consider a gift certificate for a child’s haircut.

Donations may be dropped off at Community Action’s main office, located at 518 Davidson Street in Watertown weekdays 8 AM – 4 PM.  Items will also be collected on August 18, 10 AM – 5 PM, outside Herb Philipson’s on Arsenal Street. Stop by and say hello to our friends from Froggy 97 as they host the Stuff the Bus event.  Just think how many children we can help by stuffing the bus with personal care items.

2016 Stuff the Bus Event

Going back to school can be especially stressful for children whose families cannot afford the necessities.  Let’s work together to ensure that every child can go to school feeling good about themselves … and be fully prepared to learn and excel.

For more information about how you can help, please call 315.782.4900, extension 250.

Kids Eat Free This Summer

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Worried about how to stretch your food budget now that the kids are out of school?  The Summer Food Service Program is here to help!

Community Action Planning Council and Watertown City School District are the Jefferson County sponsors for the Summer Food Service Program, a program that provides nutritious meals and snacks to children during the summer months when school meals are not available.  Beginning June 27 through August 19, summer meals will be served at 33 sites throughout Jefferson County.  Click here for full list of sites.  Each site offers free meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines to all children 18 years old and under (up to age 21 if disabled).

Meals won’t be the only thing served up at Community Action Planning Council.  We are also hosting a Summer Activities Program for youth in partnership with the YMCA’s Project Strong.  The activity program will be offered July 5 through August 19 and is open to school-aged children.  Lunch will be served 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, after which children will engage in a variety of games, activities and crafts, followed by an afternoon snack served 3:00 to 3:30 PM.

Two Girls Enjoying LunchThe Summer Food Service Program is funded by the US Department of Agriculture with local promotional support from the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program at Community Action Planning Council.   Last summer, 21,812 meals and snacks were provided to local children at the 22 sites sponsored by Community Action Planning Council.  For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, call 315. 782.4900, extension 222.