September’s Top 5

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It’s hard to believe autumn is upon us already; the Southern Tier is a beautiful place this time of year, and I encourage you to spend some time outside and support all our great local farms and producers who have some of their best offerings during the fall. September wrapped up what was a very busy summer and below you’ll find the Top 5 items from the previous month. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact my office by calling 607-723-9047.

1. Mercy House breaks ground on renovations:

A former Endicott church is getting a new life thanks to an innovative concept in caring for the terminally ill. Mercy House will be located at the former St. Casimir’s Church on North McKinley Avenue in Endicott and will provide hospice care to patients who cannot remain in their own homes, allowing them to rest comfortably surrounded by family and friends. I was able to pledge $250,000 in capital funding for renovations that will help transform the church into a ten-bed home that will be staffed by both professionals and trained volunteers. It will be equipped with a kitchen, library, chapel, and other amenities for residents and their families. Each resident will have their own room for comfort and privacy, and 24-hour care will be provided on site. I know firsthand the value of hospice after seeing the care they provided to my mother at the end of her life. This much-needed facility will allow patients of all faiths a comfortable place to rest in their final days.

Assemblywoman Lupardo helps break ground at Mercy House in Endicott.

2. Statewide poverty hearings wrap up:

As part of an ongoing effort to address the issue of poverty throughout New York State, my committee, Children and Families, hosted the third and final in a series of statewide hearings on September 24th in New York City.  I was joined by Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee, Marcos Crespo, Chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Taskforce and Cathy Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, to hear the testimony from those who are dealing with the issue of poverty on a daily basis.

It is now well known that one in four children in Broome County, and nearly half of the children in the City of Binghamton are living in poverty. The New York City hearing followed a roundtable in Rochester and another public hearing in Binghamton last month; several themes emerged throughout the meetings. On a macro level, the federal poverty level is so low that it disqualifies many families from receiving vital services. A family of four, for example, is at 100% of the federal poverty line if they earn just under $25,000. This number does not take into account many regional factors, such as the price of housing. The need for affordable housing, food assistance, transportation, quality child care, an increase in the minimum wage, and numerous reforms to the social service delivery system were among the topics discussed during testimony at the hearings.

The information gathered at these hearings will help guide policy in Albany as well as the work of anti-poverty initiatives throughout the state; Broome County, Monroe County, and the Syracuse-area have all convened groups to tackle this issue.

3. Food Bank receives $25 thousand legislative grant:

Hunger is a real issue in our community; the number of people who struggle with food insecurity is overwhelming. September is recognized annually as Hunger Action Month which puts a focus on the issue of hunger and encourages the community to take action. I was able to secure a $25,000 legislative grant for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. This organization does tremendous work to help make sure no one goes without a meal. Although September is behind us, it’s never too late to lend a hand to help battle food insecurity. Visit the Food Bank’s website to find out how you can help.

Assemblywoman Lupardo announces details of a $25 thousand legislative grant to support the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

4. Forum focuses on the economics of clean energy:

New York State has put forward an aggressive plan that calls for 50% of the state’s energy to come from renewables by the year 2030. This past Tuesday I co-sponsored a Smart Energy Jobs forum at the Binghamton State Office Building where more than 70 leaders from business, government, education, finance and nonprofit organizations from around the region were on hand to learn more about this plan and the economic development potential associated with it. Topics included access to low-cost financing for energy improvements, free solar assessments for area schools and homes, free training in the clean energy industry, and bulk-purchase discounts for home and small businesses to go solar. Development of clean energy not only helps reduce our carbon footprint, but would also create more jobs for our area. This forum was hosted by the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition and also co-sponsored by SUNY Best and the New York State Energy Democracy Alliance. To learn more about the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, click here.

5. Kinship Care Month highlights important program for children:

In NYS there are currently 218,000 kinship families, families in which relatives other than a parent cares for children; and more than 2,000 right here in Broome County. September was Kinship Care Month, highlighting the importance of these families and creating awareness of the resources available to them. I was able to secure $1.3 million in the 2015-16 State Budget to support kinship care throughout the state, a $500,000 increase from the previous year. The Family Enrichment Network, located in Johnson City, will receive $100,000 in each of the next five years to support its kinship program. Kinship families may also qualify to receive compensation for providing guardianship; up to $2,000 for legal services like attorney’s fees connected to obtaining guardianship, and for the child, education and training vouchers, up to $5,000 per year for college or vocational training costs, depending on availability. I was honored to receive the organization’s ‘Friend of Kinship Care’ award; however, it’s the kinship families who truly deserve the recognition. For more information on the local kinship care program, visit the Family Enrichment Network’s website.

Deb Faulks of Family Enrichment Network presents Assemblywoman Lupardo with the ‘Friend of Kinship Care’ Award.