Niagara Gazette

May 2, 2013

GUEST VIEW: May is national community action agency month

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — CAA is an acronym for community action agency — a nonprofit charitable organization designed to provide programs/services that target the needs of the economically disadvantaged and working poor families in a community. Niagara Community Action Program, lnc. (Niagara CAP) is a CAA commemorating 47 years of service in Niagara County. Niagara CAP serves Niagara County families from offices in North Tonawanda, Lockport and Niagara Falls.

Niagara CAP was incorporated in October 1966 and designated at that time by the Niagara County Legislature as the county’s official anti-poverty agency. Sole responsibility for governing the agency rests with its 18-member board of directors. The agency currently operates with a 33-member staff supplemented by approximately 40 volunteers. Niagara CAP is a countywide agency dedicated to reducing poverty in a collaborative effort by initiating and conducting programs of self-sufficiency. Our ultimate goal is to empower individuals and families to reach their fullest potential.

Summary of programs and services:

n Food Distribution: Niagara CAP operates a warehouse which receives food from the Food Bank of Western New York, local supermarkets, and other sources. Food is distributed to 42 food providers in Niagara County.

n Emergency Services: Niagara CAP also operates three emergency food pantries. Agency staff provide information on planning and shopping strategies for those seeking assistance. All outreach staff are certified in budget counseling, family development, and Every Parent Influences Children training. Niagara CAP also provides assistance in back rent/mortgage and utility payments.

n Nutrition Outreach and Education: The purpose of this program is to increase participation of eligible county residents in the supplemental Nutrition Assistance program. This involves helping people with the preparation and submittal of an application.

n Clothing Distribution: New and used clothing is received from local merchants and the general public and distributed at no cost to those in need. A professional clothes closet is maintained to assist with appropriate dress for job interviews.

n Weatherization: This program assists in reducing heat loss in homes and apartments by installing energy conservation measures.

n Rural Preservation: This program has been developed to improve the housing conditions of qualified rural residents in Niagara County by providing grant monies for home repair and renovation.

Fair HOUSING Advocacy: Niagara CAP serves as Niagara County’s Fair Housing agency. lt is responsible for resolving complaints of discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

n Community Child Care Clearinghouse Niaqara: This program provides information on a variety of services needed by parents, child care providers, employers, and the general community. Parents are given information about licensed and registered child care centers and family child care homes. Providers can receive information, training, and technical support toward becoming officially registered child care providers and school-age programs. Meal reimbursements for family and group family child care providers are also provided.

If you or someone you know are in need of assistance, please contact Niagara Community Action Program, lnc. at 285-9681, Fax: 285-9693, or e-mail: or visit our website at Like us on Facebook, too.

Suzanne Shears is the executive director of Niagara Community Action Program lnc.

Suzanne Shears is the executive director of Niagara Community Action Program lnc.