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Community pulling together to fight generational poverty

Community pulling together to fight generational poverty

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GLENS FALLS  A wide-ranging group of community interests, spanning education, government, businesses and social service agencies, is beginning a two-year program designed to start eliminating poverty in Washington, Warren and northern Saratoga counties.

While there have been similar groups and coalitions in the past, the difference with this group is that it includes not only the government and social service agencies, but the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, Crandall Public Library, the Family YMCA of the Glens Falls Area, the Glens Falls Coalition and other groups.

“We are trying to find a really innovative way to address poverty in our community,” said Crandall Public Library Director Kathy Naftaly. “We want to approach the issue regionally.

Naftaly is on the steering committee, as are representatives of Washington County Economic Opportunity Council, the United Way, the Saratoga EOC, the YMCA, Family Services, the Open Door Mission, WAIT House, the Adirondack Health Institute and SUNY Adirondack,

The work will begin with a pair of $60,000 grants, one in 2016 and another in 2017, from the Glens Falls Foundation.

The group has already formed a steering committee, which is meeting Friday.

The first two tasks the steering committee has will be to work with Crandall Public Library to develop an electronic list of the organization’s resources and to develop a list of five pertinent questions regarding poverty so that all organizations will have the opportunity for their clients to participate.

Those questions will be directed to people in poverty, so the group has a better idea of how to help.

The next immediate, short-term goal is to apply for the Glens Falls Foundation’s $60,000 Challenge Grant designed to break the cycle of generational poverty and to assist families in crisis.

The group is using the Bridges Out of Poverty program as a guideline for its work. The Bridges program has been used effectively in Schenectady, and committee members have heard from Michael Saccocio, executive director of City Mission of Schenectady.

Many of the leaders of groups involved in the group agree that poverty is a major issue in the community.

“I think generational poverty is one of the overarching problems we all deal with, and every agency deals with it,” said David Saffer of the Council for Prevention. “It’s hard to look at any social ill and not look at generational poverty.”

Douglas Huntley, superintendent of schools in Queensbury, put it even more simply.

“We are dealing with the issue of poverty every single day,” Huntley said.

You can read Bill Toscano’s blog at poststar.com/app/blogs or his updates on Twitter, @billtoscano_ps.

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