Poverty's Edge

The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley's take on poverty, how it affects our communities, and what we're doing about it.

07 Apr

Two Land Trust “Forever Affordable Homes” For Sale!

The Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust (LVCLT) recently placed its first two completely renovated homes on the market! The Land Trust is committed to strengthening communities by providing permanent, affordable housing in the Lehigh Valley. These beautiful and spacious home have been fixed up better than new. The best part is they are being sold below market value!   The first two homes are located in Bethlehem, but if this location doesn’t...

29 Mar

Response to WFMZ – A Look Back at the Allentown Gas Explosion

Last night on WFMZ’s show “Business Matters,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Susan Gilmore of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Edward Morrison of the Old Allentown Preservation Association, and Neighborhood Activist Diane Krauss joined host Tony Iannelli for a reflection on the tragic Allentown gas explosion.  Topics of conversation – as described by WFMZ’s Business Matters Blog – included “the state of our...

21 Mar

Where Are Our Priorities?

Tom Ulrich of We the People of the Lehigh Valley organized a “Take Back Democracy” rally in West Bethlehem on Saturday, March 19, 2011. At least 50 Lehigh Valley residents gathered to show support for a responsible budget in Harrisburg that will foster economic growth and education. Elisa Zaehringer, Advocacy Coordinator, spoke on behalf of Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. Here are her remarks: Common Good is under attack on multiple fronts. First, let’s...

18 Mar

Three More Weeks of Uncertainty

When the first short-term funding stopgap was passed two weeks ago to keep the federal government running in the midst of ongoing budget negotiations, we tried to see the positive side: two more weeks for the divided Congress to argue over what and how much to cut meant two more weeks for us to try to convince our representatives to consider the detrimental impact that excessive cuts would have on communities all over the country.  It is March 18....

15 Mar

Poverty, Anything But Easy

Thanks to Daina Nanchanatt, Muhlenberg College Student, for submitting this post. There is a saying by an unknown author that claims, “One benefit of being poor is that it doesn’t take much to improve the situation.” I think that I, at one time, may have agreed with this saying. If you don’t have money, get a job; hard work yields success. My attitude towards poverty has changed over the past three months as I visit food pantries and soup kitchens to...

14 Mar

DESPERATELY SEEKING HOPE IN OUR NATION’S CAPITOL

Well, I visited Washington last week with CACLV Board members Alicia Karner, Lori Sywensky and Jeff Byrne.  Hundreds of Community Action people from all over the country were there to fight back. We are fighting a nasty streak in this country that has us acting like we have abandoned fundamental values that have defined America since its inception:  “…liberty and justice for all;” “…to promote the general welfare;” “all [people] were created equal.”  That nastiness was illustrated by the Republican House leadership when it one-upped a...

11 Mar

Featured Entrepreneur – Janet Sena; Pix-Ology, LLC

Here is yet another success story from the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem (CADCB). Janet Sena enrolled in CADCB’s Start Your Business course in 2009, and today she is thriving as the owner of Pix-Ology, a local photography business out of Bethlehem.  During the course, Janet created a business plan and became comfortable in making informed decisions on how to structure her business and getting it off the ground. After completing the Start Your Business class, Janet launched...

08 Mar

Who can defend me now? – Y Ahora quien podrá defenderme?

Thanks to Esther Guzman, Program Manager of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, for submitting this post! We have a fictional hero called el Chapulín Colorado who dresses up like Superman, but does not have super powers. His favorite phrase is, “Y ¿Ahora Quién Podra Defenderme?” to which he answers, “el Chapulín Colorado.”   If you have had an opportunity to watch his program you’ll know that he does not depend on super powers to help people, but rather on his instincts, his...

02 Mar

Serve the country, sleep on the street

This week we lost Frank Buckles, the last American veteran of World War I, and, with his passing, those who have served were again brought to the forefront of our consciousness. Buckles’ is a quintessentially American story and easy to celebrate. He joined the Army at 17 having been turned down by the Marines (for being too young and too thin) and the Navy (for having flat feet) and signed up...

01 Mar

The Morning Call Feeds the Cynicism that is Tearing Our Communities Apart

Leave it to The Morning Call to make things worse (“Gas blast victims to charities: Where’s the money?” March 1).  We have dozens of families whose lives were shattered or even lost.  We have untold damage to those lives and the neighborhood.  We have an emergency response system that can only accomplish so much in a few short days, and one that generally doesn’t provide money directly to victims.  And we have many companies, groups and individuals who...

28 Feb

ARRA Supported Program Creates and Saves Nearly 100 Local Jobs

Thanks to Kim Stout, Business Development Coordinator of Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem, for this post! In order to cope with the emerging needs of small businesses in Lehigh and Northampton counties, CACLV and Lehigh Valley SCORE partnered in 2010 in hopes of keeping small businesses in the Lehigh Valley open while maintaining the jobs that go with them.  A joint effort created the Small Business Assistance Program.  The Small Business Assistance Program...

18 Feb

Save Community Action

Poverty is everyone’s problem.  Some try to act like poverty is just a problem for poor people.  But wasted labor affects us all.  Ghettos affect us all.  Jails affect us all.  Surely you see that.  If you don’t, keep reading.  The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley has been targeted for deep, deep federal budget cuts. (In case you missed it, I responded to these cuts in a post earlier this week.) This is the...

15 Feb

Mr. President, We Don’t Appreciate the Irony

Mr. President, in the Shakespearean tragedy that is politics in this century, you have introduced irony.  You have abandoned the network of anti-poverty programs that were the vehicle for the implementation of the War on Poverty, spawned by the same civil rights movement that kicked open the doors that were closed to so many.  Among those doors were the doors to the White House into which you so gallantly strode.  It was an honor to be seated near to the...

08 Feb

Featured Entrepreneur – Cathy Gilbert and Charles Makemson; Arrow Document Imaging

This time we’re taking a look at a business that got its start with a boost from the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem (CADCB) through their free Start Your Business classes.  Brother-sister team Charles Makemsom and Cathy Gilbert decided it was the right time to look into the idea of starting a business when the company Charles had been working for went out of business and Cathy wanted to return to the workforce after years of raising...

04 Feb

Announcing the SUN*LV Community Garden Challenge of Spring 2011: Up to $7,500 available!

As Alan explained in one of his most recent posts, CACLV “gives men fish” when they have no access to a pole or pond, but the goal of our programming is to “teach men to fish” whenever possible.  One of the newest ways that we have done this is through assisting neighborhoods with creating and sustaining community gardens.  A group of graduates from the 2009 Leadership Lehigh Valley class began SUN*LV (Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods of the...

03 Feb

America, Why Do You Hate Your Poor?

What is it about ourselves that makes us hate those on the margins?  Do we really think people like it there?  How bad off would you have to be to be willing to be seen in line at a soup kitchen or food pantry?  How much pride would you have left?  What is especially puzzling to me is why people exert so much emotional energy on hating the welfare system. Let’s start with some facts. YOU CAN’T GET RICH ON WELFARE A mom...

01 Feb

Dear President Obama: Our impending call to action

Below is the letter I sent to President Obama in response to his words, “I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs” during his Second State of the Union Address on January 25, 2011. This is my story and my perspective on the impact of the President’s words. You all have your own unique stories to share, which is why we hope this will be the first of many such letters from people who have received services from...

31 Jan

Far Left, Eh?

Blogger extraordinaire Bernie O’Hare recently put your friendly executive director on the “far left.”  Others have done that, too.  Of course, the check-points on the political spectrum are relative.  Folks who were once moderate to conservative are now liberals in the eyes of the extreme right that seems to be taking over the Republican Party.  The Jim DeMints (senator from South Carolina) and Rand Pauls (newly-elected senator from Kentucky) are far more common these days than the Susan...

28 Jan

Families and homelessness

The increase in homelessness amongst families is one of the most troubling legacies of the Great Recession. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress noted that family homelessness nation-wide was up for the second straight year, increasing by 30% between 2007 and 2009. In the Allentown/Northeast PA Continuum of Care, the Point-in-Time Count facilitated by the Regional Homeless Advisory Board and the Lehigh Valley Conference of Church in cooperation with 64...

27 Jan

Featured Entrepreneur – Jessie Thompson; The Yoga Loft

“Improving the quality of life by building a community in which all people have access to economic opportunity…” This is the first part of CACLV’s mission statement, and one of the ways that we pursue this effort is by providing support to local small businesses – the backbone of our local economy.  The Community Action Development Corporations of Allentown and Bethlehem and the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund – three of CACLV’s subsidiaries – provide resources and...

26 Jan

CACLV Responds to President’s Proposed Cuts to Agency’s Core Funding

The following is the release issued by Alan in response to Obama’s specific mention of “community action programs” in his State of the Union Address last night. The executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley called news that President Barack Obama would propose cuts in the agency that operates programs that ease the pain of recession, create jobs and strengthen neighborhoods “a surreal moment in which my dumbfoundedness was coupled with a rare desire to...

25 Jan

The Importance of Place

What makes a place?  And why is it important?  Whether because of CACLV’s numerous community revitalization projects or my own personal readings, I’ve been thinking about these two questions quite a bit lately.  They are probably deeper questions than any of us realize… partly because the words in the questions are so simple, but also, I think, because the meaning of the word “place” has been so watered down over the years that it no longer means what it...

24 Jan

Entitlements, Politics, and Debt… Oh My!

CACLV Planner and Poverty’s Edge contributor, Ryan Champlin, also publishes his own personal blog Bethlehem By Foot. (A permanent link can be found in our blogroll) Ryan describes his blog as “an author’s journey as a new resident in a city without a car, along with a critical look at urban design and a commentary on the impacts of those designs.” As a Smart Growth enthusiast with a commitment to sustainability – who has also been known to contribute...

24 Jan

The End of the Fairness Doctrine and the Rise of Meanness

When I started doing this work in December, 1980, the Federal Communication Commission had a very powerful tool for regulating comment on the airwaves called the Fairness Doctrine.  The rationale was that nobody can own the airwaves and, therefore, those airwaves are in the public domain.  An FCC issuing licenses to use those airwaves has, it was argued, the right to insist on, in exchange for those licenses, an obligation to be truly “fair and balanced.”  So, if opinion was...

20 Jan

Roots: Why we do what we do

While working on a grant application to help fund Second Harvest Food Bank’s advocacy efforts, a question about key activities reminded me yet again why we do what we do.  The application asked what our expected outcomes are and what key activities will help us attain those outcomes.  The Food Bank, of course, exists to serve people who have difficulty obtaining an adequate amount of food for themselves and their families.  This is the direct service...

19 Jan

The Passing of an Icon

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=r5SMfHhRROg] One early-Spring day several years ago, I headed to Baltimore to be a part of the excitement that comes with Opening Day.  Being the hero-worshipping dork that I am, I got there early enough to hang around hoping for an autograph.  My main target?  The Iron Man of Baseball, Cal Ripken.  I had a program with Cal featured on the cover and staked out a position in the front row (my seats are in the upper deck, where the regular...

18 Jan

Right Here, Right Now, People are Hungry!

The face of hunger is often difficult to recognize.  As Americans living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it is all too easy to think that hunger exists “over there” someplace in the distance.  Yet, the sad reality is that hunger exists in our very own community . . . in our own back yard. As many of you know, the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania provides food assistance by distributing food...

17 Jan

On King, Cynicism, and the Challenge

The color issue has moved me since I was a kid. One of my heroes was Frank Robinson, an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles, my favorite team (I was born in Hagerstown, Maryland). I never understood why guys that looked like my father were beating up guys who looked like my hero just because of their skin color. It made me mad as hell. Added to the fact that I was a middle child (nothing is fair to a middle...

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