PR: Channel 5 to Air 'Poverty in Chautauqua County'
Published February 28, 2016

'Our mission is to serve people in poverty, to prevent people from falling into poverty, and to create economic opportunities,' said Roberta Keller, executive director of Chautauqua Opportunities. She described COI as 'outcome focused' covering 'basic life areas' of health, housing, childcare, youth, family, economic and community development. Describing the county's poor as 'working poor', she said federal funding is only given to agencies that demonstrate results.

Chautauqua County League of Women Voters 'Hot Topics' February 2016 speakers were Kathy Park, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) and Roberta Keller, Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. (COI).

Keller also described the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan as a nationwide crisis, 'We have to deal with lead. What is happening in Flint -- there are lead issues all over America. Our children in this county are suffering from lead. Even if you test them there is no funding to re-mediate them. So that is why they stopped testing..... We [New York State] used to have a lead testing program. Then they stopped because they were so shocked by how many people had lead. If they found out you had lead in your house and they didn't do something about it and your children were poisoned, they had a little liability. So their lawyers said, 'enough funding lead. Leave it alone because you are liable to know and not to do.' So, if you don't know, you can claim ignorance. We are all sitting here while they are poisoning children.'

LWV member Judy Lutz-Woods noted that 20 percent of county residents live in poverty with 49.1% of children from families with female heads of households living in poverty. As 'evidence based' agencies, CASA and COI present anti poverty solutions. 'We have wealth creation strategies,' said Roberta Keller. 'The only way to get out of poverty is to generate wealth. A life-plan to move out of poverty includes the vision, coaching and motivation to get them through the hurdles...to watch them grow and change their lives.'

'I recommend we advocate to re-institute a Civilian Conservation Corps,' Keller concluded. 'We use the CCC to retool America... to rebuild our country technologically and to retrain workers to be viable in a global economy at the same time transform America into the 23rd century. That would be a valuable investment.'

Kathy Park said that CASA has 30 volunteers currently advocating for 58 children with a long waiting list that cannot be filled without more funding (donations and grants). There were 460 neglect and abuse court petitions last year countywide. CASA works in the best interest of the child in conjunction with the Department of Social Services.


Filmed and edited by Karen Harvey of the Mayville-based film group, Snowshoefilms, the video will air on Access Channel 5 on March 5 through March 11 at 1:00 and 7:00 PM daily.

Access Channel 5 is available to cable viewers in the Chautauqua, Mayville, North Harmony, Portland, Sherman, and Westfield areas, and can be found on channel 5 with a converter or on 5.3 on digital televisions without a cable converter.

The program may also be viewed after the initial airing at the station's web site http://ac5.weebly.com/.

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PO Box 188
Mayville, NY 14757
Phone: (716) 753-5225
E-Mail: AccessChautauqua@gmail.com