It was nearly 50 years ago, in August 1964, that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Equal Opportunity Act on the White House steps.
That same year, he declared the unconditional war on poverty.
To address this war, community action agencies were created.
There are approximately 1,100 community action agencies nationwide and 48 within New York state.
We are all based on the same simple premise of building on family and individual strengths toward self-sufficiency.
Your local community action agency is Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County Inc.
In fiscal year 2013, Community Action Planning Council served 10,259 unduplicated individuals equating to 4,153 families.
These visitors accessed one or more of our programs and services such as Head Start, universal prekindergarten, child care resource and referral, child care provider meal reimbursement, early childhood training and technical assistance, weatherization and energy services, and a multitude of family center services including emergency food, utility and housing assistance as well as workforce development training tuition and soft skills development.
Community Action Planning Council could not carry out our programs without the help of volunteers and community partners.
We enjoy collaborations with other human services agencies, the Department of Social Services, businesses, community groups, funding sources and donors.
Together, we truly make a difference in the lives of the struggling and at-risk individuals and families in Jefferson County.
We have not won the war, but the poverty rate is decreasing across the nation, from 19 percent in 1964 to 15 percent in 2012.
On behalf of the board and staff of Community Action Planning Council, I would like to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to those who have generously supported us over the past 50 years.
The writer is executive director of Community Action Planning Council.