ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – Sharon Turano seeks to end stigma about poverty.
To do it, she works as the volunteer coordinator for Cattaraugus Community Action Inc., an organization aimed to help people develop economic, physical and emotional security.
Her eight-year job with CCA involves advocating for the organization's work, informing people about poverty and bringing in volunteers
At a recent Souper Monday talk in the University Club at the Hickey Dining Hall Monday, Turano spoke about poverty statistics in Cattaraugus County and several of Community Action’s programs.
She began her talk with the statistics and told the audience that in Cattaraugus County, 13,037 residents – roughly 17 percent of the population – live in poverty.
That’s over 4,000 families.
Turano gave two primary reasons explaining why there are so many people in poverty.
One is situational poverty, which is driven by circumstances like divorce and illness.
The other is generational poverty, caused by families living in poverty for three or more generations.
Turano noted these reasons aren’t known to everyone. And many people do not volunteer for CCA because they associate poverty with laziness.
It takes more than just a job to get out of poverty, Turano added. Sometimes, large bills cause deficit; especially for larger households. Other times, people lack the life skills necessary to stay out of poverty.
CCA has many programs designed to help lighten the load and teach people those necessary life skills.
One she pointed to is the Literacy Program conducted at the Olean Public Library, in which volunteers help teach people to read, which in turn helps them get jobs.
Also, CCA provides transitional services for the homeless, allowing them to learn individual life skills and to prevent future homelessness.
Most of CCA's program are based in Salamanca. Among them are a food pantry and a soup kitchen, which are open Monday through Friday. Energy and housing and home rehabilitation programs also are offered.
Turano ended her presentation by exteningd her hand toward the pile of volunteer applications for the literacy program.
“We can always use the help,” Turano said.
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