Getting Ahead Graduates Inspire Human Services Professionals

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Last week, Community Action Planning Council was joined by staff members from Northern Regional Center for Independent Living (NRCIL), Watertown Urban Mission and the Volunteer Transportation Center for a “Bridges out of Poverty” workshop.  The group of 110 professionals explored the Bridges material to include mental models of economic class, causes of poverty, hidden rules, language, household dynamics and tips for applying Bridges concepts.

The high point of the day was a panel discussion featuring graduates from “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-By World,” a workshop for individuals who lack resources.  Tammy, Community Action’s Getting Ahead facilitator, introduced the panel and invited them to talk about the Getting Ahead experience.

Pictured, from left: Getting Ahead graduates Michael, Karen, Sue, Orales and J.J. and Getting Ahead facilitator Tammy.

Michael announced that he recently gained sustainable wage employment with the City of Watertown.  He continues to work on building a positive credit history and is inching closer to his future story of buying a house.  Karen gave a passionate testimonial about the effectiveness of Head Start and shared that she plans to volunteer in Miss Amy’s classroom.  Sue regaled the group with her experience participating in the Race against Poverty, during which she conquered her fear and climbed a rock wall.  Orales credited Getting Ahead with helping him to overcome depression and make plans for the future.  Since graduation, he has started a savings account and is working on getting his driver’s license.  J.J. told the audience that he was painfully shy before being part of Getting Ahead – a forum where he gained a strong support system and the courage to hone his public speaking skills.  He has since enrolled in Toastmasters and is well on his way to becoming a master public speaker.

The graduates were extremely effective helping workshop participants to understand what Getting Ahead is all about … and bravely sharing their personal stories.  At the conclusion of their comments, the audience leaped to its feet, offering a hearty standing ovation and cheers of congratulations!

The next Getting Ahead workshop begins on November 7.  To learn more about Getting Ahead, check out the flyer or call 315.782.4900, extension 250.

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” –Mark Twain

Calling All Businesses! Proudly Support Child Care Professionals!

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2018 is fast approaching, and Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project is currently looking to add new businesses to its Early Childhood Professional’s Card program!  This program is designed to bring awareness and support to the early childhood field by recognizing those who work with young children as professionals in a New York State licensed or registered facility.  These professionals are educated, motivated, and committed to providing quality care to young children that supports all areas of development while also providing them with a safe and nurturing environment in which they can thrive.

Participating businesses will receive a window cling that shows you are an active supporter of Child Care Professionals, recognition of your support through our provider mailings and social media and advertising exposure at no cost to your business!

For more information or to become a participating business, please call Emily Cleaver at 315.782.4900, ext. 237.

Let’s Talk About Child Care as Part of Workforce Development

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Working parents call us every week searching for child care options that match their needs.  Child care specialists discuss quality and convenience indicators with them so they can choose. It’s a difficult decision. Last month the Center for American Progress released a detailed and interactive report about one of the reasons that finding care can be so hard. Click here for the interactive map.

New York State is one of the most severe child care deserts.  There are simply not enough quality programs for our children.  This hurts parents who want to work, hurts employers looking for staff, and hurts our state’s ability to attract the kind of employers we say we want.  It’s time to recognize child care as a workforce development tool. Let’s get a dialogue going.  Call today, 315.782.4900, extension 240.

Record Number of Meals Served

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Community Action Planning Council’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) served a record number of meals this past summer, providing a total of 19,147 lunches and 14,912 snacks.  On average, 795 children received lunch each day.  The program is a major undertaking as meals are prepared in the Community Action kitchen, packaged and delivered to 30 different sites across Jefferson County.

The Summer Food Service Program is designed to provide free nutritious meals to children during the summer months when school meals are not available.  SFSP is funded by the US Department of Agriculture with local promotional support from the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program at Community Action Planning Council.

“The Summer Food Service Program is vital to those families whose household budgets are already to the limit,” said Dawn Cole, Deputy Director for Community Action Planning Council.  “We were very pleased to welcome new partner sites to the program, such as City of Watertown Parks and Recreation, which in turn allowed us to serve more children.  We look forward to continuing to grow the program and serving even more children next year.”

For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, please call 315.782.4900, extension 233.

Family Resource Fair – August 19

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The Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project is pleased to announce the return of its 2nd Annual Family Resource Festival and newest addition, The QIC Run!  This year we are focusing on Quality Investments for Children, a New York State initiative designed to bring awareness to the importance of quality care for our children.  Along with Quality Care, it is also important to provide quality environments for children, whether your child is in a child care setting, at home or participating in activities throughout the community.

The Family Resource Festival will be held in the McVean Center Gymnasium located at Jefferson Community College on August 19, 2017 from 9 am until noon and is free to all individuals and families.  The Family Resource Festival will provide families with information about the importance of quality environments for children and introduce them to different businesses, organizations and activities from throughout our community.  Some of local attendees are:  Zumbini with Amy, Dance World, Public Health, Early Childhood Direction Center, Thompson Park Zoo, Jefferson Co. Sheriff’s Dept., Watertown City Fire Dept., and MORE!  Families will also have the opportunity to capture the moment in the photo booth provided by Snap Shots Photo!

The QIC Run will begin at 9:30, no registration required.   The first 50 adults will get a t-shirt and the first 100 children will receive a drawstring backpack.  This 5k Run or 1.5 mile family walk is free to the community and helps support and bring awareness to quality for children.

This is a great event for families to get outside, take some fun pictures together in the photo booth and learn about all the quality opportunities and activities for young children to experience in our community!

KIDS EAT FREE! Summer Food Service Program Starts June 26

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When school is out, children lose access to free and reduced meal programs, putting a strain on the family grocery bill.  That’s where the Summer Food Service Program comes in!  Beginning June 26 through August 18, children have access to free, nutritious meals at 34 sites in Jefferson County.  Free meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children 18 years old and under (up to age 21 if disabled).  Click on the links below for meal sites in your community:

City of Watertown
Antwerp, Evans Mills, Theresa, Philadelphia
Carthage and Black River
Cape Vincent, Depauville, Dexter and Sackets Harbor

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), administers the Summer Food Service Program at the federal level, while the New York State Education Department (NYSED) administers the program at the state level.  Locally, the program is operated by Community Action Planning Council and Watertown City School District.  As a program sponsor, Community Action Planning Council is coordinating meal preparation and delivery to 29 sites; the remaining five sites are operated by Watertown City School District.

Last summer 25,916 meals and snacks were provided to local children at sites sponsored by Community Action Planning Council.   That equates to an average of 862 lunches served each day of the program!  This year Community Action Planning Council anticipates feeding even more children with the addition of five summer recreation program sites operated by City of Watertown Parks and Recreation.  Kids who visit the playgrounds at the Fairgrounds, North Elementary, North Hamilton, North-Star and Portage will take part in a variety of age-appropriate games and activities and enjoy lunch and an afternoon snack.  Summer meals are also available at housing sites, rural recreation programs, libraries, non-profit organizations and schools.

In an effort to build greater awareness of the program, Community Action Planning Council and Flower Memorial Library are hosting a Summer Food Service Program Celebration on July 12, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Flower Memorial Library, located at 229 Washington Street in Watertown.  It is a great opportunity to learn more about the Summer Food Service Program and visit the Watertown Farm & Craft Market.  Families, community leaders, elected officials and the media are welcome to attend.  Local organizations will be on hand to share information and to host activities and games for children.  Participating agencies include Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, Jefferson County Public Health, the North Country Family Health Center, and many others.  The centerpiece of the day’s activities is, of course, a nutritious lunch for children, served between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM.  The staff of Community Action will prepare and distribute the lunches, along with volunteers from Flower Memorial Library.  The menu also includes ice cream, courtesy of Stewart’s Shops.

For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, call 315.782.4900, extension 255.

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.