Watertown Elks Lodge Sponsors Operation Warm Feet

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For many years, Watertown Elks Lodge 496 has sponsored programs to ensure that children in need have appropriate attire for the winter weather.  This year was no exception!  Donations from the membership of Watertown Elks and a grant from the National Elks Foundation sponsored the purchase of 105 children’s boots, hats and mittens.

Staff of the Walmart Supercenter in Watertown gathered up the needed boot sizes and provided discounted pricing.

On behalf of the thousands of children who have been kept warm over many, many North Country winters, we offer our sincere thanks to Watertown Elks Lodge 496 for their longtime support!  And thanks to Walmart for their help coordinating “Operation Warm Feet.”

Pictured (from left) Community Action Family Center Director Mary Jane Mathewson, Watertown Elks Lodge 496 Exalted Ruler Cheryl Clark, and Walmart Community Involvement Specialist Lisa Beutel.

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Please Make the Christmas Holiday Brighter for a Child in Need

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Sponsor an Angel today!

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 apply for Holiday Angels at various locations within Jefferson County.  Applications are forwarded to Community Action Planning Council.  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 Community Action Planning Council (518 Davidson Street, Watertown) or announced on Tunes 92.5 FM during the Christmas Crusade 4 Kids campaign (now through December 15).

You can 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, along with the paper angel, should be returned by December 18 to the location from which they were selected – either the Angel Tree at Community Action Planning Council or Tunes 92.5 FM studios (242 Washington Street, Suite 4A, Watertown).  Community Action staff will then sort the gifts and provide to 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, 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, 2,262 children in Jefferson County received gifts last year.  For more information about Holiday Angels, call 315.782.4900, extension 222.

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Beat the Winter Blues AND Make a Difference in Your Community!

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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.

Last year, volunteers assisted more than 500 households through the filing process, helping them to collect a total of $605,000 in refunds and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). 

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.

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10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter

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The North Country winter can be tough on the household budget.  Check out 10 tips for preparing for winter that will help you save energy and reduce costs.

  1. Make sure your old light bulbs are replaced with LED bulbs. There is less day light in the winter time, and we all use light bulbs more often. It’s this time of the year where it makes a difference.
  2. Windows are a big factor when cold air comes in. Windows that are not going to be used can be covered in plastic. That will give an extra barrier to the cold coming in.
  3. Plastic also works for your attic door especially if your attic isn’t insulated.  Heat rises and cold sinks; it sinks right into your house.
  4. Doors are also a big factor when it comes to air coming in. Put a door sweep or a wrapped up towel below the door where there is typically a gap.
  5. If you see a hole on the outside of the house where wires or pipes come in, put caulk in the hole so cold air doesn’t find its way into the house through just a small hole.
  6. If you used a window air conditioner for the summer, make sure you take it out. Putting plastic over the window and air conditioner unit won’t always work. The air conditioner is made to pump air into your house so it has great ventilation, which works against you in the winter.
  7. If you have a second floor or room that isn’t being used, close it off.  You can put plastic on the windows and close the door.  Keep the heat just high enough so the pipes don’t freeze in any unused areas of the house.
  8. To lower your energy cost every month, lower the heat in your home. Setting the heat to 68 instead of 72 can dramatically lower your energy bill.
  9. Consider pipe wrap on your hot water heater pipes. The heat that is expelled as the water goes through the pipes will lose less heat if it’s insulated. That means your water heater won’t have to work as hard.
  10. Make sure your furnace is cleaned and tuned. Just a little can make a difference. Not only will it lower your energy cost, it will make it safer too. The last thing you need is for your furnace to go out in the middle of the winter just because it’s dirty.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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