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Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center’s new director doesn’t expect many changes

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Lisa Van Kirk is not expecting a rocky transition as she takes over as the director of the Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center.

Currently serving as the director of the Canton Neighborhood Center — a position she’s held for a year and a half — the Heuvelton resident said the Ogdensburg position is “pretty similar.”

Ms. Van Kirk doesn’t officially begin until Jan. 6, after Director Patti M. Conger leaves on Jan. 3 to take a job with Fidelis Care. Ms. Van Kirk said she plans on visiting the center several times next week to learn the ropes.

Ms. Conger said it will likely be an easy transition, thanks to Ms. Van Kirk’s knowledge of the field, and she plans on introducing her to some of the leaders of local community organizations, like Catholic Charities, that partner with the neighborhood center.

The Canton Neighborhood Center covers Hermon, DeKalb, Rensselaer Falls, Clare and Canton. The Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center serves a larger area that includes Brier Hill, DePeyster, Hammond, Heuvelton, Lisbon, Morristown, Waddington and the city.

Ms. Van Kirk acknowledged that there are also more people who seek help through the Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center than the Canton center. In an average month in Canton, 175 families will visit the center, she said, while in Ogdensburg an average month will see roughly 350 families make use of the services.

With the larger client base will come small changes.

In Canton, clients who visit the center are responsible for picking food items off the shelves on their own, creating an almost supermarket-like experience.

With more people frequenting the Ogdensburg center, Ms. Van Kirk said, she and her volunteers will be bagging food for people.

Ms. Van Kirk said the only other changes people will notice at the Ogdensburg center is some new art on the walls and possibly some plants to brighten the space.

The search is on for her replacement at the Canton Neighborhood Center. Ms. Van Kirk said she plans on continuing to help out there as much as possible until a new director is hired.

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