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.

17 Apr

It’s Time To “Save Our Homes”

  The American Dream is in danger.  The recession that began in 2008 has decimated Pennsylvania’s families and the communities in which they live.  While the recession is, technically, over, the sluggishness of the “recovery” has meant unemployment in excess of 8% for almost four years. Few families have the savings to outlast that kind of economic climate.   Since that time, foreclosures have occurred at an alarming rate and are expected to rise.  On April 3, 2012, the PA Save...

10 Apr

Press Release: Lehigh Valley Fair Budget Coalition will host a Legislative Forum on April 13, 2012 at 1 PM.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Lehigh Valley Fair Budget Coalition will hold a hearing at which invited state legislators will hear the concerns of constituents who have been receiving services but are at risk of losing those services due to proposed budget cuts to critical state programs.  The event will take place on Friday, April 13, 2012, at 1 PM at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Family Southside Center, located at 511 East Third Street in Bethlehem.  PA Representatives Steve Samuelson,...

04 Apr

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CERTAINLY CAN HURT YOU

We welcome back Chris Hudock, director of The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund to Poverty’s Edge.  Chris is strong supporter of our local communities’ small businesses.  He has been providing financial support to small businesses in the Lehigh Valley since 2005.  You likely know that your credit score impacts your ability to obtain a loan from your bank.  But did you know that your credit score can also influence whether a landlord will rent to you or...

28 Mar

Press Release: Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust To Celebrate First Homebuyers March 30th

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                                    (BETHLEHEM, PA) – Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust (LVCLT) will announce the sale of its first homes and introduce its first homebuyer during a press conference at noon on March 30 at 512 Cherokee St. in Bethlehem. The very first homebuyer, Jessica McGinley, recently purchased a home with help from LVCLT. Tours of the completed Cherokee Street home as well as a home slated for renovation next door will be available. LVCLT purchases properties, renovates the...

23 Mar

It Was Like Riding in the Victory Parade for a Basketball Championship. . .

We welcome Terry Pernsley to Poverty’s Edge.  Terry is a warehouse worker/driver at Second Harvest Food Bank.  Twice a month he works shoulder to shoulder with the many volunteers who assist with packing bags for Backpack Buddies and Boxes for the food bank’s senior program.  He enjoys giving back to the community through his work and his own volunteer efforts. It Was Like Riding in the Victory Parade for a Basketball Championship. . . Sunday, March 18, dawned foggy and gray. ...

21 Mar

Save the Date: Lehigh Valley Fair Budget Coalition to Hold a Budget Forum

The Lehigh Valley Fair Budget Coalition, a group of non-profits and local government organizations, will hold a Legislative Forum in the 6th floor conference room of Northampton Community College’s Fowler Family Southside Center on East Third Street in Bethlehem on Friday, April 13, at 1:00 PM.   A panel of elected officials will listen and respond to real stories from Lehigh Valley residents about how the proposed cuts will impact their lives.  Governor Corbett’s proposed budget for 2012-2013 turns its back on Pennsylvania’s...

02 Mar

The White Shirt: Is Moral Fiber and Character Defined By a Specific Article of Clothing?

We welcome Dolores Singletary, Director of the Work Ready program to Poverty’s Edge.   Dolores has been serving as the Director of the Work Ready program since 2008 and has worked for CACLV since 2005.   Thank you for contributing! Some years ago I worked in a very busy environment that involved multiple retail establishments and property management.  This particular business had a very high volume of public traffic and the environment in general was hectic and chaotic. One of the part-time employees of...

27 Feb

LVRC’s Annual “State of the Valley” Report Released: Alan Jennings Offers The Closing Comments

 On Wednesday, February 15, RenewLV and the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium teamed up to release LVRC’s annual “State of the Valley” report.  The report offered a sobering assessment of the region that should surprise few people.  The report is full of very interesting data.  Alan Jennings offered the closing comments, imploring the nearly 200 community leaders in attendance to pursue solutions with a sense of urgency.  Many in attendance...

17 Feb

You shouldn’t be lifting those heavy boxes by yourself, dear!

We welcome Lindsay Deemer, Projects Coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank to Poverty’s Edge.  Lindsay oversees the packing and distribution of nearly 1900 boxes of food that are given to low-income seniors throughout our region each month. She has the opportunity each month to interact with many interesting people, both the recipients and the volunteers who assist with preparing the boxes.  Thanks for sharing your experience!  “You shouldn’t be lifting those heavy boxes by yourself, dear!” This is what I typically hear...

14 Feb

A TALE OF STRENGTH AND THE POWER OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZING

On February 14, 2010, Nikki W.  found herself keeling over in pain.  After months of testing, she was diagnosed with gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach).  Gastroparesis (GP) is a chronic illness without a cure.  Treatment options are limited. There are few medications available, mostly geared towards symptom control rather than dealing with the underlying problem. For this reason, they are often ineffective.  Nikki is an artist and has used her passion for photography to raise awareness about her illness...

07 Feb

A Tale of a Safety Net in Jeopardy

We welcome Janet Ney, former Associate Executive Director of CACLV.  For over 28 years, Janet has enjoyed working in a variety of positions and currently she serves as the Coordinator of Advocacy and Outreach for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania.  Janet is a founding member of the Pennsylvania Association of Regional Food Banks, (now called Hunger-Free Pennsylvania), serving at its President for two terms. In the past, she was a longtime member of the Board...

02 Feb

Update on Occupy Wall Street

We welcome Kathryn Hoffman, Food Stamp Outreach Representative from Second Harvest Food Bank. Kathryn has worked for anti-poverty and human service programs for decades.  Has a Master’s in Educational Policy from the University of  Wisconsin, where she met her husband and lived before moving to the Valley in fall of 1987.  She enjoys her job with CACLV, doing outreach and applications for the food stamp program at Second Harvest.  In her spare time,  Kathryn is active in the local peace and...

31 Jan

Press Release: SMALL BUSINESS TRAINING CLASSES RECRUITING ENTREPRENEURS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  SMALL BUSINESS TRAINING CLASSES RECRUITING ENTREPRENEURS   Community Action’s “Start Your Business” Program to Start 28th Bi-Annual Sessions The Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown (CADCA) will begin its twenty-eighth “Start Your Business” program on Monday, February 6, 2012.  The comprehensive, 20-week program is held on Monday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at 702 Hamilton Street, Allentown. CADCA’s entrepreneurial training program was created for people of low- to moderate-income who are thinking about starting a business or expanding...

27 Jan

Becoming Poor…Is It A Choice?

We welcome back Esther Y. Guzman, director of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership.  Thanks for sharing again!  In 1992 I arrived in Bethlehem from Puerto Rico with two boys and a suitcase full of dreams.  We were considered upper-middle class on the Island and came to the United States due to my husband’s illness, which was followed by his death. All of a sudden I found myself with a low-paying  job, (at least I was hired one week after I arrived), living in...

13 Jan

Our Voices United! Can You Hear Us???

We welcome Jennifer Hernandez-Reyes to Poverty’s Edge, Jennifer has recently been named the Communication and Reporting Coordinator at the Sixth Street Shelter (SSS) and former Caseworker for Turner Street Apartments at the SSS. Through the years at CACLV, she has witness the importance of the community’s voice in public discourse and the future of the community.  Congratulations on your new position and thanks for your contribution!   As I hear the news talk about our economy,  I realize that the people we...

27 Dec

2011: DON’T LOOK BACK

WE’RE DEAD It looked like doomsday.  The President of the United States, anxious to demonstrate toughness on the budget in his State of the Union Address, offered up just one domestic spending cut – the Community Action Agencies.  And the cut was devastating:  50%.  Did I just hear him right?  Did he just single us out for cuts?  A black president attacking the program that the civil rights movement spawned, the same movement that enabled him to cross the threshold of...

15 Dec

CACLV CONDEMNS DISINTEGRATION OF LEHIGH VALLEY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, Move Will Weaken Region for “Someone’s Political Gain”

The Community Action Committee of theLehighValleyhastily issued a statement tonight criticizing the proposed “disintegration” of theLehighValley’s political power and cultural, social and economic unity by a state commission with either an errant understanding of theLehighValley, a disregard for the region or some sinister political agenda.  The statement by CACLV Board President Alicia Karner follows in its entirety:  After months of speculation and weeks of rumors, the public finally got to see the latest Congressional redistricting maps done every ten years, as required...

23 Nov

A $3.4 Million Grant Marked Day as Historic for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

Monday, November 21st , marked a  crucial  day for the Lehigh Valley Economic Developement Corporation (LVEDC) and their partners.   The  United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced during the press conference a $3.4 M grant to develop the Lehigh Valley Sustainable Plan.   Some of speakers at the press briefing included HUD Regional Administrator Jane C.W. Vincent, EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, Mayor John Callahan, Olga Torres, Chair Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem and Allentown and Board Member of CACLV and many others.  Here are the words...

21 Nov

JENNINGS RESIGNS FROM STATE PLANNING BOARD, ENCOURAGES GOVERNOR CORBETT TO KEEP ROME FROM BURNING

Dear Governor Corbett: I have had the honor and privilege of serving the citizens of the Commonwealth as a member of the State Planning Board since it was re-established early in your predecessor’s tenure.  At the time, many of us joined the Board eager to promote an ambitious policy agenda that so many, from business leaders and professional planners to environmentalists and the Brookings Institution, believed was urgently needed to stave off more municipalities from becoming distressed and the economy of...

18 Nov

No Child Left Behind?

We welcome back Elisa Zaehringer to Poverty’s Edge, Elisa is one of the Planners at CACLV and former Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator for the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania.  Thanks for the post! A perfect storm formed by the combination of a prolonged recession, a national unemployment rate stuck at nine percent, and rising food and fuel costs has left an estimated 49 million Americans living with food insecurity.  Second Harvest has seen a 51% increase...

09 Nov

If the hunger and poverty statistics don’t move your heart… maybe their role in child development will change your mind.

We welcome back Esther Y. Guzman, director of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. Esther who is not a stranger on Poverty’s Edge was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is the proud mother of two sons,  Angel Luis & Francisco Javier.  Over the years she has been involved in the fight against domestic violence, Puerto Rican and immigration rights and cultural affairs.  She is a certified trainer for “Diversity & Sensitivity” classes.   Esther has been serving as the Director of...

28 Oct

Timing Is Everything For The Nearly 90 Families Waiting For Shelter

We welcome back Chris Cassidy to Poverty’s Edge, Chris is one of the Senior Planners at CACLV.  Thanks for the update on the expansion of Sixth Street Shelter! With nearly 90 families on the waiting list to get in, the timing couldn’t be better to expand the Sixth Street Shelter (SSS). CACLV will partner with Habitat for Humanity and First Presbyterian Church of Allentown for this project, which will enable the SSS to serve 35 more families a year. This all started...

24 Oct

Observations From a Latino Community Organizer

We welcome our Deputy Director, Manuel Ayala to Poverty’s Edge.  Thanks for contributing! Manuel is not foreign to the price of change, diversity and hard work!  During his time with the YMCA he has turned around challenged facilities, created programs, reached fundraising goals and helped in the oversight of the construction of a $13.5 million, 45,000 square foot facility. I’m a displaced Boricua from Chicago, Humboldt Park to be exact.  Humboldt Park is a Chicago barrio which has the highest concentration of...

03 Oct

The Face Of Poverty

Thanks to Staci Bell,  of  Sixth Street Shelter,  for submitting this post! For just a moment, close your eyes and clear your mind.  Picture yourself in the heart of the city.  It is nearly dark outside; a cold wind whips up from the river and stings your skin.  You look down to find a small child tugging on the threadbare coat you pulled from a dumpster behind an apartment building earlier in the day...

30 Sep

Hunger Study Generates Passionate Remarks From Jennings

Yesterday, September 29th, Second Harvest Food Bank held a press conference to announce the results of the hunger study conducted in the beginning of the year (Click here to view our Executive Summary).   Speakers at the press briefing included Barbara Bigelow, Chair of the Advisory Board of Second Harvest, Elisa Zaehringer, Planner, CACLV, Alan Jennings, Executive Director of CACLV, Terry Ryan-Mitlyng, Steering Committee Chair of Christ Church Lowhill...

30 Sep

PRESS RELEASE: SUSTAINED UNEMPLOYMENT CAUSING PEOPLE TO SEEK FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR FIRST TIME

                            Second Harvest Survey Details Problems Faced by People Seeking Help at Emergency Food Assistance Sites             Since “The Great Recession” began in 2007, 76% of those seeking assistance at food pantries and meal centers commonly called “soup kitchens” sought help for the first time.  The Second Harvest Food Bank of LehighValley and Northeast Pennsylvania released the results of a survey of 500 people who have sought assistance at a press briefing today.  The briefing took place at the warehouse...

28 Sep

SECOND HARVEST TO RELEASE RESULTS OF SURVEY OF 500 WHO USE EMERGENCY HUNGER RELIEF

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    Report Indicates Sustained Unemployment Hurting People Unaccustomed to Needing Help The Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania will release the results of a survey of 500 people who have sought assistance from the network of food pantries and “soup kitchens” that serve residents of Lehigh and Northampton counties at a press briefing on Thursday, September 29.  The briefing will take place at 2 PM at the warehouse operated by Second Harvest located at 2045 Harvest...

26 Sep

Harrisburg Rally to Restore HEMAP: Mortgage Aid in PA Ends on September 30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sponsored by the PA Save Our Homes Coalition, made up of housing, labor and religious groups from around the state.  www.PASaveOurHomes.org Join the cause at the Harrisburg Rally to restore HEMAP, a program which has helped many to save their home.   Date: 9/27/2011 Time: 1:00 P.M. Location: Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg, PA Contact:  John Dodds, Philadelphia Unemployment Project 267-975-4706 or Cindy Daley,  Housing Alliance of PA 1-717-909-2006 With the September 30 conclusion of the federal Emergency Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP), Pennsylvania homeowners will have no direct mortgage...

07 Sep

We Are Participating in Hunger Action Month, And You Can, Too

You cannot recognize the face of hunger because it hides from you.  It does not discriminate against age, gender, creed, educational attainment, or hometown.  Right here in the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania, more than 63,000 people struggle with hunger each month. That’s a 27% increase over the past three years.  The problem is closer than you think, but so is the solution.  September is Hunger Action Month and the Second Harvest Food...

23 Aug

SO FIRED UP, SO MUCH TO SAY

AFTER ALL THE CHURN, WE’RE BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED BEFORE THE PREDATORY LENDERS STUCK IT TO US  According to Bloomberg.com, the American homeownership rate has fallen from its high of 69.2% in the boom year (my term) of predatory option arms, 2004, back to 65.9%, the level it was in 1998.  That was about the time, oddly enough, when a bunch of scoundrels started making big bucks ripping off lower-income and minority households.  So, we’re back to where we started. ...

21 Jul

Blaming the Victim

How do they do it?  How does an industry develop outrageously usurious products, seduce gullible homebuyers wanting what they have been told is the American Dream into loans that should have been illegal, cause the predictable collapse of the international economy, then convince regular folks into believing that it was the victims, not these predators, that were the perpetrators of this outrage?  But, folks, that is what we’ve got.  The unemployment rate has been more than 8% for some three years.  Property...

20 Jun

Our Battle Isn’t Over

We dodged yet another bullet this Spring.  Despite being abandoned by the President, and the House Republican leadership proposing elimination of the Community Services Block Grant, our many friends in Congress, including our own Charlie Dent, prevented a calamity, with the result being a 3% cut in CSBG, our core funding.  However, years of stretching, stretching and more stretching meant that even that 3% cut snapped our ability to sustain all of CACLV’s programming. The Board of Directors just adopted a...

26 May

Featured Valley Nonprofit

The following article was submitted to the Express Times and featured in their online Non-Profit Spotlight. It will be printed next Tuesday, May 31, so make sure to keep an eye out! CACLV – Strengthening the Resolve of People to Succeed Improve the quality of life in the LehighValley by building a community in which all people have access to economic opportunity, the ability to pursue that opportunity, and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives....

17 May

What will you do to live in a civilized society?

David Bradley is the Executive Director of the National Community Action Foundation, the lobbying arm of the nation’s more than one thousand Community Action Agencies, including CACLV.  David spoke at our Annual Meeting in October and pretty accurately predicted the outcome of the November election that changed the course of our nation’s politics and its policies. What is clear is that the concentration of wealth in this nation and the decline of the American middle class...

27 Apr

Forum to Promote the General Welfare

Elected officials, community groups, and advocates will hold a community forum to discuss the impact that the proposed budget cuts to critical state programs will have on the Lehigh Valley. The event will take place on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM at the Fowler Family Southside Center, located at 511 East Third Street in Bethlehem.  PA Representatives Doug Reichley, Steve Samuelson, Joe Brennan and Bob Freeman will respond to local residents’ stories about how...

15 Apr

CACLV Praises Dent for Support of Continuing Resolution

It’s hard to believe that it has come to this:  that deep cuts in spending that make underfunded attempts to level the playing field are a relief.  This is because there is a bad moon rising in American politics, an ominously mean streak that suggests we’re all on our own, that if you can’t make it, tough.  It’s the wild, wild west: fend for yourselves and let me have my guns so that I can defend myself when you get desperate...

14 Apr

Developing Microbusinesses Strengthens Communities

Special thanks to Ellen Larmer, Director of the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem, for this op-ed piece that was featured in the Morning Call. Back in the 1960s, when I was a kid, fathers went to work. That is, it seemed, every father except mine. He called himself a self-employed marketing consultant and he worked from home. Nobody understood why my dad didn’t go to a job each day. I guess if you didn’t work for somebody...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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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