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As a lifelong resident of the Corning area, it has been my distinct honor to serve as Board of Directors Chairperson for the Steuben County Catholic Charities organization. In short, our mission is to serve all in need in Steuben County as well as providing services in Allegany and Yates Counties.
As a member of our Board of Directors, I have been particularly struck by two things: the extent of the basic human needs in our county (and beyond) and the compassionate and innovative care provided by our wonderful and dedicated staff under the leadership of our Executive Director, Laura Opelt.
First the needs. We live in an area surrounded by natural beauty, but beneath the surface, many of our fellow neighbors face hardships that most of us cannot begin to imagine or comprehend. We are a very large geographic county, larger than the land mass of the state of Rhode Island, with a relatively low population. So, unlike larger population centers, many of our poor are hidden from view in our daily lives. A high percentage (15%) are considered to be living at the poverty level.
According to the Economic Research Service, Steuben County is considered a food desert, which is determined by a lack of healthy food within a certain distance from someone’s home.
In addition, in Steuben County poverty also grips so many in the clutches of substance abuse and family problems. All of these issues are linked and create a vicious downward spiral for so many of our poor.
We need to imagine a community that acknowledges the pain and suffering among us and not blame the poor for their circumstance. People do not choose to be poor and many times do not have the support systems in their lives to even know what to do. Government cannot begin to address all of these needs and government funding continues to decline.
This is where Catholic Charities comes in. Catholic Charities of Steuben provides
holistic and compassionate service to those most in need through three major service areas: Kinship Family & Youth (healthy child development and healthy family functioning), Substance Free Living (substance and alcohol abuse), and Turning Point (poverty).
For example, in 2018 Catholic Charities of Steuben delivered over 375,600 meals to people in need through three food pantries, mobile food trucks, free food carts and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
We cannot forget the generosity of people in our community who contribute their time, talent and money to help Catholic Charities of Steuben County address these important needs. Please consider attending our fun annual Toastings and Tastings event at the Radisson Hotel Corning on Friday, February 8. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door and may be purchased online at CatholicCharitiesSteuben.org/Events or in person at one of our event sponsor locations: Bottles & Corks, 130 West Market Street, Corning, NY; Connors Mercantile, 16 East Market Street, Corning, NY; or the Radisson Hotel Corning 125 Denison Parkway East, Corning, NY. It’s a nice way to get out and socialize in the midst of a cold winter and support a great cause.