The Community Action Organization of Western New York (CAO) has shifted its focus directly on COVID-19 as the coronavirus’ negative impact on the region’s underserved populations increases. CAO’s website is updated to promote its comprehensive COVID-19 relief services and meet the community’s needs.
Since the beginning of the crisis, CAO has worked extensively to meet the needs of the low-income communities it serves, beginning with food drives, educational programming with collaborators, and getting important information to clients. It is in its mission to promote opportunities for low-income individuals through the promotion of self-sufficiency.
CAO has extended its outreach through grassroots efforts, social media, radio programming and collaborations. The organization has also implemented technological advancements to better connect with the community, such as launching the CAO text line. Clients can get related to resources immediately by texting CAOWNY to 474747.
CAO CEO L. Nathan Hare has made it his priority to make resources readily available to underserved communities facing tremendous challenges due to COVID-19.
“I want the community to know that we are here for them on all levels,” Hare said. “Under the extreme circumstances which COVID-19 has brought upon us, I want those who are struggling, those who are hungry, those who need a helping hand to know they have a friend in CAO. We are always here. Some families are impacted financially in a way they have never experienced before, and we want them to feel comfortable coming to us during these hard times.”
•Rent and Mortgage Relief: CAO is helping underserved communities get connected with rent relief resources throughout the crisis. Those unable to make their mortgage or rent payment due to the pandemic can apply for CAO’s homeless prevention program. Visit https://caowny.org/rent-and-mortgage-relief-buffalo-ny/.
•Utility Assistance: Erie County residents who have a documented loss of income relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and have fallen behind on their utilities, as a result, are eligible to apply for utility relief resources. Visit https://caowny.org/utility-assistance.
•Emergency Food Services: Qualifying residents of the City of Buffalo and Erie County experiencing a food shortage are welcome to visit CAO’s food pantry. They also have an opportunity to receive a prepackaged grocery box based on their household size. Visit https://caowny.org/emergency-food-resources/.
•Job Preparedness and Opportunities: CAO has made it a priority to address the increasing number of unemployed individuals across the region due to COVID-19. The employment and training department will help job seekers prepare and become eligible for great job opportunities. Visit https://caowny.org/careers/.
•School-Aged Child Care: CAO’s has created an in-person HUB for virtual learners. The in-person virtual program provides up to five hours of child care with computers, internet, tutorial support, safe socialization, and meals for students of essential workers from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-6:30 p.m., five days a week. Visit https://caowny.org/school-aged-child-care/.
•Parent/Student Advocacy and Outreach: CAO helps families transition to remote learning, ensuring parents’ voices are included in school-based planning and shared decision-making. Through the Masten Resource Center and Better Schools Better Neighborhoods, CAO offers an interactive platform through the “We The Parents” radio show/podcast, Facebook Live Zoom table talks, and virtual parent training. Visit https://caowny.org/parent-student-advocacy-and-outreach/.
•Senior Care Services: CAO offers transportation services for grocery shopping, food delivery, wellness checks and errands to seniors in need across Western New York. Under this programming, CAO has also been providing activity kits, housing assistance and virtual aerobics to keep seniors active. Visit https://caowny.org/senior-care-services/.
•Drug Addiction and Mental Health: CAO provides comprehensive and integrated services to meet the needs of patients who are opiate-dependent. The agency said an important statistic to highlight is that the death rate for those enrolled in CAO’s drug abuse research and treatment program has not increased during the pandemic. Visit https://caowny.org/drug-addiction/.
CAO will continue to combat the COVID-19 crisis and help underserved communities stay safe, healthy, and build self-sufficiency. In addition to the services mentioned above, CAO connects families with child care services, afterschool programming and other resources. CAO also provides crisis help, providing short-term assistance to individuals and families during an emergency or crisis that threatens their ability to maintain basic needs.
About CAO of WNY
The Community Action Organization of WNY was designated in 1965 as the official antipoverty agency for Erie County, with a mission to serve the unmet needs of the low-income populations. Today, CAO serves more than 50,000 families and individuals within Erie and Niagara counties through a variety of programs and services. Visit caowny.org for more information.