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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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