Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wheelchair Ramp Donations

July 20, 2010, 2:02 pm

Donations sought for wheelchair ramp program

The Broome County Council of Churches is asking Spiedie Fest patrons to donate to the Ramp It Up 2010 program during the annual festival at Otsiningo Park on Aug. 5, 6 and 7.

Cash donations, new tools such as tape measures and cordless drills, and gift cards from local building supply companies are among the items the council needs to build home wheelchair ramps. These items can be brought to the Hope Tent at the festival.

The council wants to give wheelchair-bound homeowners easier access to their homes. They hope to build about 15 ramps this summer at no cost to the recipients.

Each ramp costs approximately $1,500 for materials and the construction is done completely by volunteers. Adult mentors work with youth groups on this project. Last year, 13 ramps were built and about 110 young people worked on the program.

— Kacey Deamer

Monday, July 19, 2010

Faith in Action Golf Tournament

July 16, 2010

Faith in Action golf tourney is Aug. 13

The ninth annual Faith in Action Volunteers Golf Classic & BBQ will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 13 at Traditions at the Glen in Union.

The event, sponsored by Weis Markets and in shotgun captain and crew format, costs $100 per person before July 30 and $125 per person after that date. It includes a hole-in-one contest for a new car from Miller Auto. For more information, call 724-9130.

Volunteers for the Orchard Planting Day Needed

July 19, 2010

Volunteers needed to plant fruit trees

Volunteers are needed to plant 45 fruit trees at the Broome County Council of Churches’ farm on River Boulevard in Conklin.

Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse won the trees earlier this year in an Internet-based Communities Take Root contest sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

CHOW will hold a tree-planting event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 22 on a half-acre tract of its seven-acre fresh food farm in Conklin. Go online to to register as a volunteer or call (607) 724-9130.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Volunteers needed for the CHOW Orchard Planting Day

Up To The Minute News

Help Plant the CHOW Fruit Tree Orchard

Last Update: 7/14 12:29 pm

From Broome County Council of Churches:
Now that CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse) of the Broome County Council of Churches has won an internet-voting contest for a free fruit tree orchard, it’s nearing time to do the actual planting of some 45 fruit trees.

This community event will take place on Sunday, August 22, at the CHOW Farm on River Boulevard in Conklin from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. River Boulevard is off Conklin Road towards the Susquehanna River.

“We need you, the community, to help us plant these trees and celebrate with us at the same time,” said Deacon Edward Blaine, CHOW program director. “Bring your pick or shovel, dig and plant, hand out refreshments, eat with us, learn about orchards and be a part of the excitement.”

The prize of a free orchard came about through an internet-voting contest last Spring and is sponsored by The Communities Take Root program, and supported by Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. Edy’s will provide fruit bars to everyone and the Council of Churches will provide lunch.

The program on August 22 consists of the following:

--11 to 11:45 a.m., introductions and planting demonstrations

--11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., break into groups to plant the orchard (bring your pick or shovel; otherwise the Council will have a limited supply of tools)

--3 to 4 p.m., workshop on fruit tree after care, if enough volunteers sign up for this session.

When volunteers fill out the Volunteer Form, let the Council know if 1) you will bring your own tools, and 2) whether you will be staying for the workshop at 3 p.m.

To volunteer, go to and fill out the Volunteer Form. Or you can volunteer by calling the Council of Churches at 724-9130 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (2 p.m. on Friday).

“You helped us win this orchard with all your votes,” said Deacon Blaine. “Now you can help us plant it enabling us to provide even more healthy food for the hungry.”

The CHOW Farm and Orchard is on flood-plain land; the Town of Conklin is leasing seven acres of land to CHOW at a very minimal price. Half an acre will be used for the orchard tree planting.

See Article Here

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ed Blaine's Letter to the Editor

July 12, 2010
Vetoes hit hungry in Broome

The very late state budget and the vetoing of member items have put the burden and cost of the lack of real leadership in Albany on the backs of our schools and nonprofits. The lateness of the state budget in Albany and the vetoes of the member items have affected the Broome County Council of Churches CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse) Program in a couple of ways.

The member item that was vetoed by Gov. Paterson designated for the Broome County Council of Churches, $7,500, was earmarked for the purchase of wholesale food for the CHOW Program's food pantries. With the demand for emergency food increasing by over 20 percent each of the last three years, it has been a challenge to keep our pantries stocked.

The CHOW Program has received this member item grant for the last few years and included the amount in our budget for 2010. We will need to find a way to replace these funds in an increasingly difficult economic environment or cut back on the amount of food we give to the families who come to us. (The $7,500 member item designated to Catholic Charities is also for the purchase of food for their pantry.)

Thus, with the need for emergency food increasing in Broome County, the two largest emergency food programs are being cut by $15,000. This will be difficult to replace, as individual donations are less than last year at this time. The people of our area are not less generous, just less able to be of assistance to the programs that assist their neighbors.

The tardiness of the budget has caused other difficulties with our CHOW Program. CHOW receives funds from a grant from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program of the state Health Department. This money helps offset the cost of our food recovery program, Broome Bounty. Broome Bounty recovered approximately 1 million pounds of food in 2009 that would have ended up wasted. This money is spent first and reimbursed by the state each month.

Since the budget deadline passes, no money has come from this grant to The Council of Churches. Thus, money that has already been spent has not been reimbursed as promised. This amounts to over $10,000 that The Council of Churches has spent in food recovery that has not been reimbursed as promised. When and if it will be reimbursed, we don't know.

The nonprofits in our area that are being shortchanged in the budget by Paterson's vetoes all operate on a pay-as-you-go basis that has very little, or nothing at all, left over at the end of the year. We cannot sustain the loss of revenue by these vetoes, and we cannot continue spending money that is contractually promised to us without being reimbursed. The local nonprofits, and nonprofits throughout the state, are paying dearly for the lack of true leadership in Albany and a broken system that serves as our state government.

Letter to the Editor: Thanks for wheelchair ramp

July 10, 2010
Thanks for wheelchair ramp

Twentysome years ago, my sister Cindy's husband, Ben Harendza, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. At the time, Ben was in his early 30s, working at the Wyoming Youth Center, coaching youth wrestling and had become a state-certified wrestling referee. He also was raising his two young sons.
While this news was absolutely devastating to Ben and our families, Ben has never let his incurable disease define him and his outlook on life. He continued work and remained involved in youth and high school wrestling for many years. But Ben's Parkinson's has continued to progress to the point that he now requires the assistance of a wheelchair.
On a recent weekend through its Summer Volunteer Project, the Broome County Council of Churches, Inc. and St. Mark's Episcopal Church constructed an exterior wheelchair ramp at the Harendzas' home in Johnson City.
Our families are grateful to both of these wonderful organizations for constructing this ramp.
Tricia Leonard
Yuba City, Calif.

Friday, July 9, 2010

CHOW to receive money from Walmart

July 8, 2010

Walmart to present grants on opening day

JOHNSON CITY Walmart said Thursday that it will present $16,500 in grants from the Walmart Foundation to eight area organizations during the grand opening of its second store in Broome County.

The store, on Gannett Drive in Johnson City, will open at 8 a.m. July 21 after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m.

The store will have a "stimulating effect not only upon the business itself but upon the entire local economy, thereby opening the door for other commercial establishments to relocate to our area," village Mayor Dennis Hannon said.

The village will receive a $4,500 grant; Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, $2,500; Family Enrichment Network, $2,000; and Johnson City Fire Department, Broome County YMCA, Boys and Girls Club of Western Broome, local Boy Scouts troop and local Girl Scouts troop will each receive $1,500.

The nearly 137,000-square-foot store includes energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features to reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste.

Skylights reduce the amount of energy needed to light the store by up to 75 percent daily, the company said. The LED lighting in the store also operates 70 percent more efficiently than traditional fluorescent lighting.

The cement used in the concrete flooring is made with recycled materials, and the floor's finish reduces the need for chemical cleaners. Low-flow toilets and faucets reduce water used in the bathrooms.

The first Walmart in Broome County opened in the Town Square Mall in Vestal in 1992.

WBNG: Vexed Over Vetoes

Vexed over Vetoes

By WBNG News

Story Created: Jul 8, 2010 at 5:20 PM EDT
Story Updated: Jul 8, 2010 at 6:32 PM EDT

View Video Here

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In an attempt to try and balance -- and pass -- a state budget, Governor David Paterson has vetoed nearly 7,000 items. That includes millions of dollars for education. There is also a trickle-down to local community groups that might lose some state funding.

Multimedia Watch The Video With the breakdown, here's Action News reporter Matt Markham at the live desk.

It looks like new member items in to the 2010 State Budget are out -- and some of the Governor's vetoes could prevent certain agencies around here from receiving reimbursements of money they were originally planning on.

Now these vetoes include budget items from last year or in earlier years.

When a charity or agency files for state grants, they sign a contract and spend their own money before getting it back later from the state.

Despite the vetoes, several agencies in the Southern Tier are safe. Those include the Humane Society, the Broome County Council of Churches, and SWAT team equipment for the Endicott Police Department. They all signed contracts, spent and received that state money.

Then there are other groups that have signed contracts and are waiting to be reimbursed, like the Johnson City Senior Center and the Broome County Office for Aging. That concerns people like Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo who said she would fight for them to get state money.

Other groups like the Discovery Center, the Zoo at Ross Park, never signed contracts and now it looks like they're out the money. So are Catholic Charities and CHOW, who were hoping to get $20,000 for their food pantries in *this year's budget.

"For us, that actually translates in to 53,000 pounds of food, 6,300 meals, and about 450 people who won't get services, so it's a pretty sizable chunk for us," said Lori Accardi, executive director of Catholic Charities of Broome County.

"Food pantries, senior centers, groups that I thought were very worthy and certainly could have used a break this year. The pantries in particular are a concern," said Donna Lupardo (D -- NYS 126th Assembly)

All of these member items add up to $193 million the State will shave off its expenses. That's part of the larger roughly $800 million that's been cut in the proposed budget...which is still three months late.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

MudCat Grant 2010

July 2, 2010

Golf tournament set

binghamton Jim "Mudcat" Grant, star baseball pitcher of the 1960s, will be in Binghamton Friday to announce the date for the 2010 Jim "Mudcat" Grant All-Star Golf Tournament.

Presented by Security Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York and The Black Aces, the tournament benefits the Broome County Urban League, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton, Catholic Charities of Broome County and the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

This year's tournament will take place Sept. 2, at The Links at Hiawatha Landing. The tournament features special guests, including major league baseball players and other athletes. Players this year will include former pitcher Vern Law, boxer Gerry Cooney, Grant and fellow Black Aces Fergie Jenkins, J.R. Richard and Al Downing. Black Aces are African-American pitchers who won 20 or more games in a single season.

MudCat Grant Golf Tournament

Baseball Legend Jim “Mudcat” Grant Announces 9th Annual All-Star Golf Tournament
Last Update: 7/02 9:48 am

From the City of Binghamton:

Mayor Matt Ryan will join baseball legend Jim “Mudcat” Grant Friday July 2, 2010 at 10:00am at the Security Mutual Building, 2nd floor located at Court & Exchange Streets to announce the 2010 Tournament.

Presented by Security Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York and The Black Aces,* the Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament benefits The Broome County Urban League, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton, Catholic Charities of Broome County and the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (C.H.O.W.).

“It’s all about the children,” “Mudcat” says. “And this tournament raises money for four different local organizations that provide a host of vital services and programs to kids and families living in Broome County.”

Security Mutual Life Chairman, President and CEO Bruce W. Boyea couldn’t agree more. “Because Security Mutual has been based in Binghamton for its entire 123-year history, we are passionate about finding ways we can make a positive difference right here in our own community,” Boyea says. “We have increased the number of organizations the Tournament benefits, which in turn has dramatically increased the ways we can help make life better for local children and their families.”

Binghamton Mayor Ryan applauds the many organizations and individuals that join together to create the Tournament. “The City of Binghamton thanks each and every sponsor, as well as the visiting celebrities and the local volunteers who put so much effort into this event,” Ryan says. “Their dedication is truly inspiring, and their efforts make a tremendous difference in the everyday life of our area’s youngest and most vulnerable residents.”

This year’s tournament takes place Thursday, September 2, at The Links at Hiawatha Landing. The tournament features many special guests—including major league baseball players and other well-known athletes and celebrities—who golf with the sponsors and spend time visiting area youth, hospital patients and nursing home residents. Joining “Mudcat” at this year’s tournament will be fellow Black Aces Fergie Jenkins, J.R. Richard and local favorite “Gentleman Al” Downing. The celebrity list continues to grow. To date, 24 celebrities are scheduled to play, including Vern Law, Cliff Johnson, Mickey Scott and boxer Gerry Cooney.

For more information about the event, including volunteer and advertising opportunities, please visit the All-Star Golf Tournament website at

Nonprofits Brace for State Cuts

July 5, 2010

After Paterson's vetoes, nonprofits brace for funding cuts

By Nick Reisman and Jon Campbell

ALBANY -- An Elmira medical clinic was looking forward to receiving $30,000 for dental supplies.

Broome County Office for Aging was earmarked for $13,000.

And a regional food bank in Orange County was planning to use $100,000 to distribute to soup kitchens and purchase low-cost foodstuffs.

But the checks aren't in the mail.

As Gov. David Paterson vetoes $193 million in legislative pork from the state budget, non-profit and community groups are facing major cuts to popular programs. In some cases, lawmakers fear the cuts could threaten an organization's survival.

Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook said the vetoes -- 6,709 of them -- were signed Friday afternoon and would be delivered to the Assembly and Senate this week so they could formally take effect.

The governor followed through with the vetoes after state lawmakers passed a series of spending bills last Monday, but failed to produce a contingency plan in case up to $1 billion in federal Medicaid funding isn't released to the state.

In addition to cutting $600 million in education aid and $90 million for community colleges and tuition assistance, the governor is vetoing the legislative earmarks -- known as "member items."

The money was already approved in a prior budget year, but was due to be doled out to the groups once the budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year was completed.

Gannett's Albany Bureau reported in May that despite New York's fiscal woes, more than $9.3 million had flowed to lawmakers' hometown pet projects since the fiscal year started April 1. At the time, the state defended the spending, saying the money was from prior years, but Paterson has since shut down the spending through the vetoes.

The budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year doesn't include any new member-item spending. The Legislature has traditionally been allocated $170 million a year to dole out in member items.

Although derided as a symbol of largesse, voters tend to have a contradictory relationship with member items, said Robert Ward, the deputy director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

"To the extent that people perceive high spending as a problem, they tend to not associate it with a particular legislator," Ward said.

But when it comes to securing money for a popular local program, lawmakers are all too happy to take the credit, he said. Member items can be designated only to non-profits and local governments.

"Certainly there will be many legislators pressing the leadership to negotiate for restoration of the member items," he said. "Historically that has been one of the most important concerns for the Legislature."

The governor said he has no plans to reverse course on the vetoes.

"We don't have the resources to accommodate these programs," Paterson said. "Admittedly, some of them are good."

The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley will lose out on a $100,000 member item from Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, R-Blooming Grove, Sullivan County.

The money would have been placed in an account so soup kitchens and other groups could purchase low-cost food from the bank's stock, Executive Director Jan Whitman said.

Whitman said her organization will now be left scrambling to find a new donor to provide money to provide food for some of the groups they work with.

"Agencies like ours who are really helping people who are most affected by these poor economic conditions, maybe I'm biased, but I think those are the last cuts that need to be made," Whitman said. "Agencies that are helping people to feed their kids and stay in their homes are really on the front lines of trying to fight these poor economic conditions."

Calhoun called losing the money "atrocious."

"To take food out of peoples' mouths is probably the worst thing that people could do and I just can't believe the governor would do that," she said.

In Elmira, a medical clinic would lose $30,000 for supplies used to sterilize dental equipment.

"We're a little concerned about that," said Melody Ponzi, the chief financial officer of Able2, formally known as the Cerebral Palsy & Handicapped Children's Association of Chemung County.

Overriding all of the vetoes would be difficult, if not impossible. Democrats in the Senate hold a narrow 32-30 advantage over Republicans.

Even if the Democrats were able to muster the needed two-thirds majority by convincing 10 GOP senators to vote with them, the Legislature would have to vote to override each of the 6,709 items.

Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, expressed confidence on Thursday he would be able to override some of the vetoes.

"We are definitely considering overrides of the governor's veto," he said.

In the Assembly, where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans, lawmakers may try to override large items such as the education aid that was cut.

Lawmakers may return to Albany sometime in July to take up the Medicaid contingency plan. The Senate must also still vote on several measures to raise revenue and finish the budget, which was due on April 1.

"We'll take the most important ones up," said Assemblyman Mike Spano, D-Yonkers. "I think everyone realizes that this is a crisis and we're going to have make some very tough decisions."

Additional Facts

By the numbers
Some of the groups that will lose funding as part of Gov. Paterson's decision to veto member-item spending.

* Union-Endicott Central School District: $3,500
* Broome County Head Start: $5,000
* Boys and Girls Club of Western Broome Inc.: $4,000
* Broome County Council of Churches Inc.: $7,500
* Catholic Charities of Broome County Inc.: $7,500
* YWCA of Binghamton and Broome County: $5,000
* Tioga County Boys & Girls Club: $5,000
* Broome County Office for Aging: $13,000
* Tioga County Boys and Girls Club Inc.: $5,000
* NYSARC Inc. Otsego County Chapter: $15,000
* Chenango Memorial Hospital: $4,000

Budget Crisis - CHOW

Budget Crisis Results In Less Cash For Non-Profits

More than six thousand vetoes of member items in the State budget, that is, items which legislators request for specific programs, means less money for food pantries and soup kitchens.

"It's literally taking food off the table, we're going to have to find ways to offset that," said Ed Blaine, Director of Broome County Council of Churches CHOW program.

CHOW stands to lose $75 hundred it relies on to buy food for its pantries.

Catholic Charities will also have to go without that same amount for its food programs.

"That's about 53,000 pounds of food and about 6,300 meals and about 450 people that won't get served," said Lori Accardi, Catholic Charities' Director.

Member item cuts are just the latest blow dealt to local non-profits.

CHOW is already reeling from the more than three month late budget, as it usually receives monthly payments from a grant through the State Health Department.

"We haven't been reimbursed money from that grant that is due to us, so we're like $10 thousand in the hole due to that," Blaine said.

And with less money coming in from the State, some groups say they'll have to rely more on the local community in order to compensate for the money lost.

"It's amazing despite the economy, the generosity of the community and we'll be doing everything we can possibly do to be creative and to pursue other resources," Accardi said.

But the organizations say they wish it didn't have to come down to that.

"I understand the hard times, it's exactly during the hard times that we need to not cut the programs that are picking up the slack for people who are in need," Blaine said.

And until funding is restored these groups will have to do more with less, something they seem to be getting quite accustomed to.

***FOX 40's Chris Whalen Reporting***

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View Video Here