Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More local residents have trouble affording something to eat

Living on her husband’s youth pastor salary, Kate McCoy always had a modest food budget – $80 a week for a family of five.

When food prices began to rise and the family’s income didn’t, the stay-at-home mom needed to think creatively about how to feed her family.

With the help of a coupon-savvy friend, Internet blogs and websites, coupons and sales, McCoy has been able to maintain her family’s food budget, even lowering it $10 to $15 a week.

McCoy, of Whitesboro, is among a growing group of Americans trying to meet the rising cost of food in a tough economy.

That struggle shows in a recent report released by the Food Research and Action Center that shows 18 percent of Americans did not have enough money to buy food in 2010. Regionally, 15.7 percent of respondents in the Northeast showed a food hardship.

Nationally, the percentage of Americans facing food hardship represented a decrease from the last quarter of 2008 when it was 19.5 percent.

But that incremental recovery hasn’t necessarily trickled down locally, according to local social service agencies.

Lucille Soldato, Oneida County Department of Social Services Commissioner, said food-stamp cases “have been increasing for the past three years.”

“That hasn’t slacked off,” she said.

The number of individual cases in Oneida County is 33,412, Soldato said.

In Herkimer County, the number of individuals on food stamps in February was 9,514, according to a report by the Department of Social Services.

From 2009 to 2010, Hope House in Utica saw a 15 percent increase in the number of people it serves at its food kitchen despite the opening of Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen, a soup kitchen in West Utica, said Betty Abel-Jellencich, food services and volunteer coordinator at Hope House.

The early numbers indicate 2011 could see an increase as well. Hope House served 1,660 more people in January 2011 than January 2010, Abel-Jellencich said.

“It’s a larger increase than we’ve seen in years past,” Abel-Jellencich said, adding that the faces of the hungry also are changing. Many seeking meals are the working poor and people living in the suburbs who have just enough to pay their rent, but nothing left for meals, she said.

Affording food isn’t just a problem of the poor anymore.

Energy costs have risen dramatically, salaries have remained stagnant and food costs have increased nearly 4 percent in the past month, The Associated Press reports. The food-cost increase marked the biggest gain since November 1974, mostly due to a 50 percent increase in the cost of vegetables.

One local nonprofit, Compassion Coalition, seeks to serve these people by offering food at a reduced rate through its for-profit grocery store, Your Bargain Grocer. The store helps support the nonprofit operation, which provides toiletries, food and furniture to its member nonprofit agencies.

The store on Columbia Street in Utica sells the surplus, outdated or slightly damaged brand-name products below retail, said Compassion Coalition Executive Director Charlie Sweet.

“We’re like a thrift store for food,” he said, holding up a bag of a half-dozen fresh lemons for $1.19. “I try to price way below Walmart … and people are even having a hard time with our prices.”

Though the products, which come from mainstream grocery stores, aren’t consistent, the prices typically are, Sweet said.

On a recent Wednesday, the grocer offered items such as a 5-pound bag of Dino’s Meatballs or a 4-pound whole organic chicken for $4.45. Two-and-a-half pounds of Purdue Ground Turkey were priced at $2.75; two Healthy Choice Steamers sold for $3.

Shoppers range from those on food stamps to doctors and lawyers, but the newest faces are those with two incomes, Sweet said.

“It takes two incomes to run a household,” he said. “Gasoline is $3.69 a gallon; everything has gone up. … We’re seeing people charging groceries on credit cards.”

Phil Turrell, 64, travels from Little Falls each week to take advantage of the store’s “very low prices on produce and meat.”

While he mainly shops for other lower-income friends in his neighborhood, he doesn’t know what people would do without the store.

“There is such a savings,” he said, pointing to how he typically saves $20 on a case of produce or meat. “People who don’t have money or are on a fixed income, this is an important thing to have.”

Betty Anna, 59, of Ohio, agrees. The grandmother of 10 shops for family and supplements her weekly grocery shopping with items from Your Bargain Grocer and estimates she saves 50 percent on fresh produce, cereals and snack foods.

“Twenty cents a peach,” she said while shopping on a recent lunch break from her job in Utica. “Where can you get that that cheap?”

Original Article from the

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

April 13th Program Focuses on Getting New Money in the Door

The Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group, a group for Oneida and Herkimer nonprofit executives supported by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON), will present “The Development Assessment and Special Panel Discussion” as a part of their 2011 meeting theme focus of “Getting New Money in the Door” on April 13th at RCIL (Resource Center for Independent Living), 409 Columbia St., Utica, NY, 13501 from 8:30am to 12pm. Registration is $5.00 and can be made online at

The workshop features Mike Stein, Vice President of Development at Bassett Medical Center, who will present “The Development Assessment: A Tool to Enhance Fund Raising Effectiveness.” This program will help nonprofit executive directors confront the challenge of leading organizational fund raising efforts. The development assessment process provides organizations with a comprehensive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of existing fund raising programs and focuses on how they can maximize current resources, as well as recommends additional resources needed to attain full fund raising potential.

Following this portion of the workshop, a panel will discuss online fundraising and review local efforts. Panelists will discuss their organization's current efforts, challenges they are confronting and plans for future efforts. Panelists for this include Michael Stein, Vice President of Development at Bassett Medical Center; Frank B. DuRoss, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement at Mohawk Valley Community College; and Bill Dodge, Executive Director of the Rescue Mission of Utica.

The workshop is funded by the CORPORATE PARTNERS PROGRAM of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, a collaboration of generous area businesses and The Foundation that promotes nonprofit and community excellence.

The New York Council of Nonprofits is the premier governance, management, and support services organization serving charities in the state. NYCON has a membership of 3,000 charities of all types and has offices in Albany, New York City, Buffalo, Poughkeepsie, and Oneonta. For more Information visit or contact Andrew Marietta at 607-436-3124, or at

Monday, March 21, 2011

“Cybersecurity Programs at Utica College”

Join us for a special Genesis Group Discovery Tour
“Cybersecurity Programs at Utica College”

We'll learn about Conferences involving Economic Crime Institute partners ~ Training for law enforcement professionals on the local, state, and federal levels ~ Corporate training in fraud prevention and identity protection ~ Teaching and research laboratories for computer forensics and CIMIP-related work involving faculty and students ~ secure and restricted access evidence rooms.

Monday April 11th ~ 12:00pm to 1:15pm
The Economic Crime and Justice Studies Building, Utica College 1600 Burrstone Road, Utica

Free ~ Informative ~ Refreshments
ALL ARE WELCOME ~ Business & Community Leaders, Law Enforcement, General Public

RSVP to Genesis Group Executive Director Ray Durso, Jr. by calling 315.792.7187 or email:

Thank you for your continued interest & support!

Raymond J. Durso, Jr., Executive Director
The Genesis Group
SUNYIT ~ 100 Seymour Road, Utica, New York 3502
315.792.7187 (T)
315.797.1280 (F)
Genesis is also on Facebook


Corinne L. Ribble, director of philanthropy for The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc. has been named president of the Literacy Funders Network for 2011.
The Literacy Funders Network is a national peer learning group affiliated with the Council on Foundations whose mission is, “To increase the philanthropic community’s knowledge and understanding of literacy as a systemic issue and a tool for community change.” The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is a member of Council on Foundations and a founding member of the Network.

Network members work to share best practices, strengthen accountability and impact measurement, and coordinate dialogue among people working in such literacy sectors as health care, workforce development and finance. Members represent a broad cross section of the philanthropic community including community, corporate, private and family foundations that are both national and local. Of her appointment, Ribble said, “It spotlights our local community’s literacy efforts on a national stage. Every day in our community, dedicated professionals and volunteers devote time to help people learn how to read, manage their finances and navigate the health care system. I’m honored to be in a position to share what works in our area with others across the nation, and in turn bring best practices to our community. We know from the recent Community Indicators project for Herkimer and Oneida counties that student performance in Grade 8 English is somewhat below the state level and that 14 and 15 percent of adults in Herkimer and Oneida counties, respectively, do not have high school diplomas or GEDs.

Literacy is a skill that every person absolutely needs in order to be successful. We are making inroads, but there is still progress to be made. This appointment will assist in bringing valuable information and resources to the community in support of much-needed progress.”
Ribble was selected by the Network’s executive leadership team and she succeeds Clotilde Perez-Dedecker of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo as president and remains on the executive board as past-president.

The Community Foundation has been a force for improving lives and promoting philanthropy throughout Herkimer and Oneida counties since 1952. The Foundation has made more than 4,700 grants totaling over $37.2 million in support of causes ranging from education to health care, the arts to the environment. Grants are generated by the more than 270 funds that comprise The Foundation’s endowment, established and advanced by area individuals and families. For more information about The Community Foundation’s work in Herkimer and Oneida counties, visit or call (315) 735-8212.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Region receives $100,000 federal grant to study food access

Local officials suspect there’s a direct relationship between neighborhood poverty rates and access to local food.

With the help of a $100,000 federal grant, they will be able to study that connection and figure out ways to overcome it.

The grant, which will be administered by Rust to Green Utica, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Resource Center for Independent Living and the City of Utica, aims to increase food access by “promoting coordination and partnerships between public, private and nonprofit partners,” according to a news release from those organizations.

“Together, I think we’re really going to make a huge difference in this community’s food system,” said Ron Bunce, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Utica.

The grant award was announced at a news conference Wednesday at the downtown Harza Building, where city grant writer Pamela Jardieu said future meetings about the study could be held. It was also attended by Mayor David Roefaro, County Executive Anthony Picente and other officials.

City Public Relations Director Angelo Roefaro said the mayor pushed for the grant in the absence of federal earmarks this year.

Overall, fourteen grants will be awarded to communities throughout the country, according to the news release.

Further grant funding could become available and help implement some of the opportunities identified in the study once it is finished, Jardieu said.

Original article from the

MVLA Membership Meeting March 26th


Who: The Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc. (MVLA)
What: Junta General de Miembros/ General Membership Meeting ~ 2011
Where: Tropical Delight Restaurant, 852 Bleecker St., Utica, NY
When: Sabado, 26 de Marzo / Saturday, March 26, 2011
Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

We encourage your attendance and participation. Please feel free to bring a friend or family member along. Our meetings are informational, full of energy, ideas, and most importantly very beneficial to the Latino community. We are having an open community forum with guest speaker, Assemblyman Felix Ortix, Assembly District 51 (Brooklyn). Assemblyman Ortiz has been in office since 1994.

Contact Information:
Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc.
309 Genesee Street (Park Ave. Entrance) 3rd Floor, Utica, NY
(315)738-1083 ext. 121 or 147
RSVP by: Friday, March 25, 2011

MVLA, Inc. Mission Statement:
To improve the standard of living for all residents of the Mohawk Valley through various services that will educate, empower, achieve awareness among

Different cultures, help shape young minds, and demonstrate the great opportunities available within the Mohawk Valley.

Mohawk Valley Latino, Inc.
309 Genesee Street, 3rd Floor
Utica, NY 13501
315/738-1083, X121 or 147
MVLA in facebook
Motivation * Vision * Latin Pride * Attitude
Motivacion * Vision * Orgullo Latino * Actitud

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Building Opportunities 2011: The Nonprofit Shared Space and Services Conference

Join us for three days of practical tools to create successful nonprofit shared space and services.

Building Opportunities 2011 is the largest event in North America dedicated to creating and managing shared nonprofit workspace, administrative services, technology, and programs. Learn from The NonprofitCenters Network's ten years of collected best practices. Join leaders from the nonprofit, philanthropic, business, and public sectors as we discuss WHAT WORKS in shared space and services.

Gather comprehensive information on:

  • Nuts and bolts of creating and operating multi-tenant nonprofit facilities
  • Proven models of success for sharing administrative services, technology, and programs
  • Commercial and nonprofit financing options
  • Cost-saving solutions for quality, efficient operations
  • Tools to evaluate and amplify the impact of your collaborative space project
  • Successful strategies for community-building, ownership and governance, and cross-sector partnerships

View the Conference Agenda

What to expect:

  • Significant networking opportunities
  • Over 20 new workshops and discussions covering diverse topics, incuding community-building and facility operations
  • Dynamic speakers from across the design, real estate, and financial sectors, as well as nonprofit sector leaders
  • New conference ambassador program to foster peer-to-peer learning
  • Thought-provoking plenaries exploring proven impact and future directions for the shared space and services movement
  • Tours of nonprofit center facilities in the Los Angeles area
  • Valuable resource materials to take home

Learn more and register today.

May 9 - 11, 2011

Center for Healthy Communities at
The California Endowment
1000 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Early Bird through April 1
NCN Members: $295
Non-Members: $495

After April 1
NCN Members: $375
Non-Members: $575

Group Discount:
10% off total amount with 2+ registrants from an organization

Upcoming Career Program & Nanotechnology Presentation

Hello Genesis!
As Your Community Connection, we are announcing the following programs and events:

Career Exploration Program
March 15th ~ 8:00am at Herkimer County Community College (Gymnasium)

sponsored by: The Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce ~ The Herkimer County Guidance Association and The Genesis Group

WE ARE IN NEED of additional Speakers as we expect nearly1000 9th grade students from (10) Herkimer County schools to attend. Please RSVP to Ray Durso, Jr. at and include your Name and Profession.

Nano 101 ~ The Marcy NanoCenter at SUNYIT"
including the Nanotechnology Transformation, Jobs and Growth
March 22nd ~ 6:30pm at SUNYIT Kunsela Hall
March 24th ~ 6:30pm at Herkimer County Community College

Timothy Dunn from Mohawk Valley EDGE will offer a presentation on the proposed Marcy NanoCenter as well as the Technology Complex being developed at SUNYIT in Marcy.

When completed, these projects will have a enormous positive impact on our region. A key componet for both is Education and Awareness. "The more the public knows and understands these projects, the easier it will be to gain their support." Our recent bus trip to SUNY Albany is a great example of that.
It's FREE and open to EVERYONE!
Please mark your calendar and plan to attend!

Sponsors Include: The Genesis Group, Mohawk Valley EDGE and The Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley, representing Chambers of Commerce from the Boonville Area, Camden Area, Clinton, Herkimer County, Kuyahoora Valley, Marcy, New Hartford, Greater Oneida, Rome Area, Trenton Area and Oneida County Tourism

April 23rd ~ 8:00am
Regional Clean and Green
sponsored by Rome Clean & Green and The Genesis Group

May 10th ~ 12:00pm
Excellence in Healthcare Recognition

May 23rd ~ 12:00pm
7th Annual Genesis Group Golf Tournament

Thank you for your continued interest & support!

Raymond J. Durso, Jr.
Executive Director
The Genesis Group
100 Seymour Road
Utica, New York 3502
315.792.7187 (T)
315.797.1280 (F)
Genesis is also on Facebook