Friday, January 27, 2012

Broome County Council of Churches Elects New Board Members

The Board of Directors of the Broome County Council of Churches today elected four new board members at its annual meeting. They are:

George Cummings of United Presbyterian Church; the Rev. David Drebert of Trinity Memorial Episcopal; Jeffrey Jacobs of St. Mark’s Episcopal; and Suzanne Krause of Temple Israel. Terms of office are for three years. Mr. Jacobs is filling an unexpired term.

Officers elected at the meeting are: Dr.. Patrick Regan, president; Jennifer Cubic, first vice president; the Rev. Robert Peak, second vice president; Todd Eames, treasurer; and Caroline Vadala, secretary.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stamping Out Child Hunger

By Haley Burton

January 24, 2012 Updated Jan 24, 2012 at 6:49 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) Governor Andrew Cuomo says one in six children in New York live in homes without enough food.

What resources are available in Broome County to help families keep food on the table?

"We still have in this State children that go hungry. My friends that is simply unacceptable," said Governor Andrew Cuomo (D).

Cuomo says this is in part due to some New York families not taking advantage of the federal food stamp program, He says 30 percent of New Yorkers eligible for food stamps don't enroll. Cuomo says that 1.4 million people in New York State.

"In Broome County, we have just under 30,000 men, women and children who are receiving food stamps. Of that group, about 13,400 are children," said Art Johnson, Commissioner of Social Services for Broome County.

Johnson says every year, more people in Broome County apply for food stamps. He says in 2011, approximately $4.7 million dollars were issued in food stamps for those 30,000 food stamp recipients in the area.

"The state for the last five years has pretty aggressively tried to increase the number of people who are taking advantage of the food stamp program. There's a federal benefit so there's no cost to the county or the state," he explained.

New York State has created a web-based application tool for food stamps. You can fill out the application online and it will automatically be sent to your County's Department of Social Services for approval review. Click here for more information

"We certainly don't want anyone to go hungry that doesn't have to. Nobody should in this day and age. Between food stamps and free and reduced lunches at schools, there are a lot of opportunities for families to take advantage of," said Johnson, "Food stamps are one thing that can basically help people keep off of public assistance. Maybe all they need is some help with food."

Click here for Broome County Department of Social Services
You can also call the County Department of Social Services at (607) 778-3772 and submit an over the phone application for food stamps.

Governor Cuomo said in his State of the State address that he wants to start a program where the State promotes food stamp outreach to increase enrollment in the program. He also said he wants to end the stigma of applying for food stamps. Cuomo says this will help make sure no child goes to bed hungry in New York State.

The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) says about 40 percent of the people who use food from its pantries are children.

"We're fortunate here in Broome County, we have enough soup kitchens and pantries that people don't have to be hungry," said Ed Blaine, Director of CHOW.

Blaine says the pantries serve about 3,500 people each month. CHOW says the number of families looking for help to put food on the table continues to jump.

"We've actually seen an increase in families using soup kitchens which is an interesting growth for us because demographically for us, it's normally adults and senior citizens, homeless people. Now we're seeing more families come in because they simply can't make ends meet and the only hot meal they're getting from a pantry. To save that food, they're going to a soup kitchen a few times a week," said Blaine.

CHOW offers families a balanced diet, focusing on three meals a day with fruit, veggies and protein.

"If kids don't have a healthy diet, they will be sick more often. When they are in school, they won't be able to concentrate and do well," said Blaine.

For more information on the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), you can click here for more information. You can also call (607) 724-9130

Monday, January 23, 2012

Deadline for wheelchair ramp program is March 1

The Broome County Council of Churches is accepting applications until March 1 for its wheelchair ramp program.

After applications are received, it will take several weeks to evaluate the need for the free ramps, which will be built by youth groups during the summer. Over the past three summers, about 230 youths built 38 ramps through the council’s youth mentoring initiative.

For an application, call Joanne Kays at (607) 724-9130 ext. 304 or visit

— Jennifer Micale

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Davis College to keep ministry's doors open

BINGHAMTON -- A downtown ministry that provides hot meals and other food items to needy residents will be continued by a local college after the Baptist-run facility faced the possibility of closing its doors due to a lack of funding.

Davis College will operate Carroll Street Ministries after accepting the property's deed as a donation from the Central New York Baptist Association, which was likely to shutter the ministry after losing funding from its national convention.

Instead, Davis College will encourage students at the Bible-based school in Johnson City to get involved at Carroll Street Ministries.

"This will give students the opportunity to help people," said Jerry Traister, chief operating officer of Davis College. "We look forward to continuing the work that has been established at Carroll Street Ministries."

Although no financial aid will be provided by Davis, volunteers from the college will enable the street-corner ministry to keep its doors open, said Bill Deckert, a Davis graduate who handles Carroll Street's day-to-day operations.

Deckert said the site will continue to offer a Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse food pantry from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 2 to 3 p.m. Saturdays. In addition, a free lunch, which serves as many as 60 people each week, will stay open from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Volunteers served a free lunch Monday to several dozen people in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"This is a way to keep Dr. King's dream alive," said Candace Thornton, a senior at Davis who organized the event. "I hope we impacted the community and helped people who didn't have enough to eat."

Livingston Kids Celebrate MLK Day Delighting In Service

Helping others comes naturally to kids in Livingston as they came out in droves to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Whether they were bringing in groceries to help stock local food banks, coloring pictures to decorate nursing homes, filling jars full of ingredients to make cookies, or decorating cans to be used as pencil cups, all echoed how much they wanted to help those in need.

“I think it’s a great way to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and what he showed us about the spirit of community,” said 13-year old Melissa Brown as she brought in several pairs of used eyeglasses which were amassed by the Livingston Lions’ Club. The teen had proactively collected the eyewear from among her grandparents’ friends who had mailed them from Florida.
Abigail Selikoff colored another picture which will be sent to the group Color A Smile ( for distribution to nursing homes and agreed with mom, Kelly, “this is a lot of fun and for a good cause.” Indeed, a few adults took the time to color pictures as well, sheepishly omitting their ages on the bottom of the pictures. “Hey, if it puts a smile on someone’s face, why not do it?” one of them said.

“There are so many people here. This is really awesome!” exclaimed Sasha Weber who enthusiastically dove into the activities. High school student Helen Odegoba patiently helped smaller children craft a “God’s Eyes” wall craft out of Popsicle sticks and yarn at a table sponsored by the Livingston High School’s chapter of the Spanish Honor Society. “I like helping children and doing this. You really get to know the people in your community,” she explained.

Members of Asian Indians in Livingston were out in full force as kids filled the group’s table to make crafts out of recycled materials. “I read somewhere that something like two million bottles that are recycled is equal to the space taken up by about 2,000 refrigerators,” an informed Austin Carloma told his mom, Maria.

The 15-year old from Verona came to Livingston for MLK Jr. Day because “this town has fun stuff to do today.” Jenna Foley agreed. As she transformed an old milk jug into a container for her bedroom, she was happy with today’s event. “It’s really good and fun to do this, especially the stuff for charity. And this stuff is a really entertaining way to spend the day, instead of staying home watching TV and playing video games.”

Robin Kim came for the fellowship. The 13-year old, who is home-schooled by her mother, was going to spend most of the afternoon in lessons but had permission to attend today’s event to be with other kids.“I love being home-schooled, but sometimes it does get a little lonely,” she admitted as she and a friend who is also home-schooled assembled toiletry kits for an immigration and refugee program and homeless shelter.

Justin Lawson munched on free pizza donated by Pizzeria Altavilla and couldn’t wait for the free concert by bands Chromatic Funk and Castles. After lunch, he said his next stop would be Temple B’nai Abraham’s table where he wanted to assemble the ingredients to make cookies.“What can I say? I’m motivated by food,” explained the growing teen.
“Everybody can do this,” exclaimed 8-year old Mindy Morris said as she colored a shopping bag which will be used to distribute food to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW). “Everybody in town should be here.”

Today’s Day of Service was sponsored by the Livingston Committee for Diversity whose goal is to encourage the citizens of Livingston to recognize their commonalities and appreciate the potential strength of the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity that so richly enhances our great community.

For more information on this and other committee activities, contact co-chairman Keith Hines at (973) 393-0119.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The credit union for New York State employees is helping to stock food pantries in Broome County.

SEFCU delivered a $20,000 donation to CHOW, the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, Wednesday. CHOW, which is operated by the Broome County Council of Churches supplies food for 30 pantries throughout the county.

Council Director Joe Sellepack says cash donations can be stretched further because the organization is able to purchase food at wholesale prices. He says the need in our area continues to grow by double digits each year, 20 percent this year which was made worse by the flooding. "We're stretched because we're not only meeting the emerging need of the flood but you're also dealing with the ongoing need of the food pantries and the people in our neighborhoods that require food.

"Sellepack says that while the warehouse's shelves seem full now, CHOW is coming off its busiest time of year with holiday food drives. And many of the supplies are specifically earmarked for flood relief. He says by February, many of the racks will be bare.