Niagara Gazette

March 2, 2014

Area leaders to to meet at NU to discuss issues facing the poor

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Community leaders will gather this week to discuss the issue of poverty in Niagara Falls and Niagara County. 

The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement will hold its second annual poverty conference from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at Dunleavy Hall on Niagara University’s campus in Lewiston. 

The Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement was established in 2011 to reinforce Niagara University’s commitment to the region by strengthening existing community partnerships and forming new town-gown relationships.

“We are proud to represent the university on this important initiative,” said David Taylor, director of the Levesque Institute. “This conference speaks to the heart of our Catholic and Vincentian mission by serving the community and seeking solutions to reducing poverty and the systematic conditions that are created by it.”

The conference will be presented by the Niagara County Coalition for Services to the Homeless in co-sponsorship with Buffalo/Niagara Falls and Erie/Niagara Counties Continuum of Care (CoC) and Niagara University.

A panel from various sectors of local and state government will address this year’s theme: “Governmental Role in Addressing Poverty - Moving from Policy to Action.” The panel is scheduled to include state lawmakers George Maziarz, John Ceretto and Jane Corwin, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt and Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey. 

The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president, will offer opening remarks and Robert D. Gioia, president of the John R. Oishei Foundation, will serve as the keynote speaker.

NU officials said this year’s conference commemorates the 50-year anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson’s State of the Union address, during which the former United States president introduced legislation pertaining to the country’s “war on poverty.” Officials said the coalition realizes the need to examine poverty’s impact within the community and that addressing poverty is the responsibility of all sectors in society.

The conference will provide attendees the opportunity to learn about programs facilitating change in the community, especially those that improve economic stability and advancement for individuals living in poverty.