Imagine having less than $7 a day to spend on food, living in a house that only heated to 60 degrees, not having reliable transportation or not owning appropriate winter clothing. For more than 200,000 Western New Yorkers, this is their daily routine. And for the second consecutive winter, a local nonprofit organization is preparing to shed some light on the daily challenges faced by individuals and families living in poverty as we enter a new year.
The Rural Outreach Center (ROC), which serves the southern communities of Western New York, is raising awareness about the challenges of living in poverty through a innovative community-wide campaign called “ROC Resolutions.” During each week of January, the spotlight will shine on a different obstacle often encountered by those living in poverty. Week one will focus on food, while week two will focus on utilities, week three on transportation, and week four on clothing.
Several community leaders have been challenged to play an important role in helping to spread the word about ROC Resolutions, including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte, along with several local business leaders and media personalities from companies such as Vidler’s 5&10 and WGRZ Channel 2.
“I would like to personally invite all Western New Yorkers to take the 2018 ROC Resolutions challenge and try to walk in the shoes of our less fortunate neighbors for a day, a week or the entire month,” said ROC Executive Director Frank Cerny. “Whether you choose to take our food, utilities, transportation or clothing challenge, I’m sure you will find it eye-opening.”
In the food challenge, participants are asked to spend no more than $6.36 per person per day for food, which is equal to the typical daily food budget for those living in poverty. The utilities challenge requires participants to keep their heat at 60 degrees and limit the use of electricity, while the transportation challenge focuses on getting around without the use of a personal vehicle. In the clothing challenge, participants will be asked to wear only three outfits and one pair of shoes for an entire week.
Located at 730 Olean Road in East Aurora, the ROC provides services focused on children, education and job creation which assist, empower and elevate participants out of poverty. For more information on the ROC, its many services and how you can become part of ROC Resolutions, please call 240-2220 or follow the Rural Outreach Center on Facebook for frequent updates.