Please check out the feature that Time Warner Cable News Buffalo did on the ROC on March 4:
An East Aurora organization catering to individuals suffering from poverty in rural communities is celebrating a year of service in Western New York. Time Warner Cable News reporter Rebecca Vogt sat down with leaders at the Rural Outreach Center and talks challenges, triumphs, and what’s in store for the future.
EAST AURORA, N.Y. — Frank Cerny explained poverty in rural Erie County is often invisible, and not what you typically expect.
“A woman that we were working with several years ago had to send her children to the creek in the morning to get water so she could flush the toilet. We’ve had a least two families trying to make it through the winter in a camper trailer,” said Cerny.
As of recently, Cerny said there wasn’t a place like this available for the rural poor. That’s why the Rural Outreach Center was created in the hopes of being a voice for those who cannot afford to speak up for themselves.
The ROC offers services social work, free health services, and employment counseling. Kids programs include reading readiness and distributing snack packs filled with nutritious take-home food.
“On any given night in our area there are about 1,500 children who are at risk of going hungry. Backpacks filled for not only themselves but their siblings. We’re building on that, sending information on nutrition and better shopping,” said Cerny.
As part of their mission to assist and empower the impoverished rural community, the ROC reported they’ve served over 550 individuals in 2015.
“They can help these people make better decisions, they can help them set up savings accounts, they can help them get better employment with resources we offer here,” said Cerny.
One of the biggest struggles the center still faces though is transportation, or a lack there of.
“Some families would love to come but they can’t afford the gas. One of our challenges is to get people here, remove the barriers. We’re hoping to make an application to the Ford program for a van,” said Cerny.
The center will also start fundraising in the fall for a more permanent space that will be built behind their existing trailer. Plans for the 18,000 square foot building show multi-purpose spaces and the chance for the Rural Outreach Center to expand even further.
“We’re not just handing things out. We’re helping people help themselves. Our objective is to make sure no one falls in-between the cracks,” said Cerny.