Imagine having only $6.36 a day to spend on food, living in a house that only heated up to 60 degrees, not having reliable transportation, or not owning a winter coat or boots. For more than 200,000 Western New Yorkers, this is daily life.
The Rural Outreach Center (ROC), which serves the southern communities of Western New York, is raising awareness about the challenges of living in poverty through a new community-wide campaign during the month of January 2017 called “ROC Resolutions.” During each week of the month, the spotlight will shine on a different obstacle often encountered by those living in poverty. Week one (Jan. 2-8) will focus on food, while week two (Jan. 9-15) will focus on utilities, week three (Jan. 16-22) on transportation, and week four (Jan. 23-30) on clothing.
Community leaders will play an important role in helping to spread the word about ROC Resolutions. Former Buffalo Bills great Steve Tasker and his wife Sarah are serving as honorary chairs of the monthlong event, while Kiss 98.5, Star 102.5, WBEN, WGR 550 and Buffalo Healthy Living magazine have joined on as media sponsors. Others taking part in the campaign include Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz; actress Mary Kate O’Connell; Althea Luehrsen, CEO of Leadership Buffalo; and Jenna Luehrsen, marketing and youth program manager at Leadership Buffalo.
During Poloncarz’s weeklong journey, he will be asked to spend no more than $6.36 per day for food. In week two of the challenge, O’Connell will keep the heat in her home set at less than 65 degrees while also limiting her use of electricity. In week three, Althea Luehrsen will attempt to get around town without the use of her personal vehicle. And in week four, Jenna Luehrsen will be challenged to wear only three outfits and one pair of shoes for the entire week.
Poloncarz, O’Connell and the Luehrsen’s will also be asked to use social media, and the hashtag #ROCResolutions, to shed light on their weeklong challenges. The public is also challenged to take part in ROC Resolutions for a day, a week or the entire month!
The Taskers are asking the entire community for help launching this campaign and continued support to bring much-needed attention to the topic of rural poverty.
“I was an early board member of the ROC because I believe in their work — assisting, empowering and elevating individuals and families out of poverty,” said Steve Tasker. “Sarah and I are committed to raising awareness about invisible poverty in our rural communities and are proud to chair ROC Resolutions.”
Located at 730 Olean Road in East Aurora, the Rural Outreach Center served over 550 individuals in 2015, according to the organization’s executive director, Frank Cerny. “Our mission is to help the impoverished rural population in southern Erie County and surrounding areas. We do so with compassion, empathy and respect for all people.”
For more information on the Rural Outreach Center, its many services and how you can become part of ROC Resolutions, please call 240-2220, visit the ROC’s website at www.theroc.co or follow the Rural Outreach Center on Facebook for frequent updates.