50th Anniversary of Community Action

On August 20, 1964 in Washington, DC, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA). The EOA created a variety of programs— including Community Action Agencies—as part of his War on Poverty. PEACE, Inc. was one of the agencies established to address local poverty problems in rural, urban, and suburban communities across the country.

PEACE, Inc. got its start serving Onondaga County residents in 1968. “PEACE, Inc.’s track record in Onondaga County highlights the positive impact we’ve had helping our neighbors through a variety of financial and personal challenges,” said Joseph E. O’Hara, executive director. “We assist over 15,000 individuals each year through a variety of programs such as Head Start / Early Head Start, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Foster Grandparent Program, Family Resource Centers, Weatherization and Senior Nutrition and our success stories underscore our ability to achieve measurable results.”

Recently we worked with a client we will call Anna.  After leaving an abusive marriage, Anna and her two young children were homeless.  As a result of repeated ear infections Anna’s three year old son lost his hearing.  PEACE, Inc. Family Resource Center staff worked with Anna to provide food, clothing and shelter and then helped Anna apply for assistance, find an apartment and obtain services for her son.  Today, Anna is working a stable job, her two children are enrolled in the PEACE, Inc. Head Start Early Head Start program and she is applying to college.

In 2014, Community Action Agencies across the country will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Community Action. Locally, PEACE, Inc. hosted a celebration and building rededication at 10 am. on Wednesday, May 28, at our Southside Family Resource Center located at 136 Martin Luther King West, Syracuse, New York. Guest speakers included the Mayor of the City of Syracuse, Stephanie A. Miner, and Ann Rooney, Deputy County Executive for Human Services, representing Onondaga County Executive, Joanne M. Mahoney.

Together with community partners, local residents, volunteers, and elected representatives, PEACE, Inc. honored the work and legacy of longtime PEACE, Inc., Board member, NAC member, volunteer and supporter, Ms. Emma Johnston.  The center at 136 Dr. Martin Luther King, West, has been renamed PEACE, Inc. Emma L. Johnston Southside Family Resource Center.  Project Connection has also been incorporated as a program of the center.

“In the last fifty years, Community Action has been extremely successful helping people achieve and maintain economic security despite experiencing budget cuts, shrinking resources, and increased demands for services during challenging economic times,” said Don Mathis, President and CEO of the Community Action Partnership national office. “We understand our residents’ unique needs, and have developed programs that will best serve them and their families.”

PEACE, Inc. has been the federally designated Community Action Agency (CAA) for Onondaga County since 1968. As a one-stop family development agency, PEACE, Inc. strives to ‘help people in the community realize their potential for becoming self-sufficient’ through a multitude of programs, serving infants to seniors.

Based in Washington, DC, the Community Action Partnership provides training and other services to more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies across America that help 20 million low-income people and families achieve economic stability and improve their lives. For more information, visit www.communityactionpartnership.com or follow the organization on Twitter, http://twitter.com/CAPartnership.