Safety Net Committee Addressing Human Services Needs

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
Fulton, NY – Identifying and meeting the human service needs that exist in Oswego County is a significant task.

The needs of individuals and families are many and current economic factors are adding to that list.

To ensure that those needs are met, the Safety Net Committee, comprised of representatives from Oswego County’s human services agencies, is keeping a close eye on the basic human services (food, clothing, and shelter) that are available and their ability to serve those in need.

“It’s important that we take a proactive approach so that we may best serve our community now and in the future. We have been reaching out to concerned businesses and organizations, as well as families and individuals who are able to assist us in our fight against hunger and poverty in Oswego County,” said Safety Net Committee Member, Melanie Trexler, executive director of United Way of Oswego County.

Trexler said that despite the numerous budget cuts that Oswego County’s human services agencies have endured they are doing their best to continue providing services.

“We’ve noticed that while it can be a struggle, there have been some very positive developments. Thanks in part to the efforts of Senator Patty Ritchie additional funding from New York State helped to offset the loss of FEMA funds that we received.  These additional funds had a tremendously positive impact on our food pantries. We are delighted that Senator Ritchie followed through for us on this,” said Trexler.

Amy Roland, director of Nutrition Services for Oswego County Opportunities, a member of the Nutrition Coalition, said that OCO’s Home Delivered Meals program is doing well and now, through the Fidelis Managed Care Program is able to provide meals to eligible individuals under the age of 60.

Additionally OCO’s Nutrition Services will soon be starting its Summer Feeding Program and has a new site Senior Nutrition site in Pennellville.

Food pantries at both Catholic Charities of Oswego County and Human Concerns have benefited from the generosity of community members and are better positioned to meet the demands they receive for food subsidy.

“While our numbers are still higher than they were last year, it is starting to level off and though we are still seeing increases it is not as severe as it was,” said Helen Hoefer, director of community services at Catholic Charities of Oswego County.

Deb Deeb of Human Concerns credited her ability to provide for hungry families to the support Human Concerns has received from area churches and community organizations.

Agencies dealing with homelessness in Oswego County said that while they are doing everything they can, combating the issue is still a challenge citing a lack of affordable housing as one reason.

On a positive note, Eric Bresee, director of OCO Crisis and Development Services said that the agency’s homeless program for adults is available once again and through collaboration with the Hannibal food pantry and soup kitchen have established homeless feeding sites at Our Lady of the Rosary church in Hannibal and the Fulton Episcopal Church.

“We are fortunate to live in a county where our communities have demonstrated their willingness to help their neighbor,” added Kathy Fenlon, executive director of the Oswego City / County Youth Bureau and United Way board president. “One of the goals of the Safety Net committee is to engage the community and encourage them to take stock in these human services programs and make them their own by helping to provide agencies with the resources they need to meet the increasing demand for their services. I am happy to say that we have had a positive response. We hope to build upon this momentum and remind community members that now, more than ever, we rely on the spirit of compassion and caring to continue to serve those in need and provide them with the services they so desperately in need of.”

For more information on the efforts of the Safety Net Committee, or how you can help to support our area’s human services organizations, contact Trexler at 315-593-1900.