Celina Neugent, 9, receives assistance with her homework from Ellen Stevens of B’ville CARES during the newly created Kids Kount program held at the Baldwinsville Public Library.
Photo by Erin Wisneski.
Baldwinsville There was no mission in mind when a group of Baldwinsville volunteers got together for breakfast this summer.
However, casual conversation eventually led to a discussion about the alarming amount of individuals in the community who need help but don’t fall within the poverty guideline to receive assistance from existing programs. They are known as the working poor, people who are living paycheck to paycheck and many are falling farther behind financially.
“We decided as a group to do something about it,” said Elaine Sartwell, a participant in the conversation. As former director of County West Family Resource Center, an arm of PEACE Inc., Sartwell is very familiar with the needs of our community.
“The face of poverty has been turning for the past decade and the middle class is bottoming out. Those who were previously able to stay above water are now drowning,“ she said. “The working poor have no where to turn.”
To meet the needs of the working poor, the group of volunteers formed B’ville Community Action Resource and Empowerment Support (CARES), which will temporarily operate under the umbrella of the Baldwinsville Volunteer Center. The mission of the program is to serve the population that is currently under-served within the Greater Baldwinsville community at no cost to those in need.
Due to federal cutbacks in funding for community action programs, there exists a gap whereby the working poor are deemed ineligible for assistance. Existing programs turn people away if their income is more than 125 percent of the poverty level, which amounts to $23,163 for a single mother with two children.
“Under these guidelines, there exists a large population in our community who are in need of assistance, but do not qualify for it,” said Sartwell, who is the co-coordinator of B’ville CARES, along with Ellen Stevens. “B’ville CARES is addressing these types of gaps by implementing several programs without income eligibility requirements.”