Outreach center embraces new home - Catholic Courier

Outreach center embraces new home

Tioga Outreach Center’s location has changed, but the need for its services most certainly has not.

The center moved this past April to 464 Broad St. in Waverly, in the Lefty’s Restaurant building. It had previously been housed at the former St. James School, 505 Clark St., approximately three-quarters of a mile away.

Although Tioga Outreach’s new home is about the same size as its predecessor, Angela Klopf, the center’s director, said she likes the building’s open-area aspect, remarking that “it’s modern, comfortable and really more inviting, which is important.” She added that it was vital for Tioga Outreach to remain accessible to clients: “Visibility and the parking were the two big things.”

Tioga Outreach Center was launched in the winter of 2003-04 as the only program of its kind in Tioga County, offering support to low-income working families throughout Tioga County and in some parts of Pennsylvania who lack regular income for sufficient food, shelter, clothing and health care. The center offers a food pantry; clothing; household items; financial assistance; budget counseling; pre-screening for food stamps; assistance with transportation for employment; a job-search service; a child-mentoring program; and more. Its food pantry and clothing closet are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with special appointments available as well. Tioga Outreach’s phone number is 607-565-7580.

Christine Sanchirico, executive director of Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga, said her agency opened Tioga Outreach in response to finding “that needed resources and services were concentrated in a few areas of Tioga County, especially the Owego area, and inaccessible to many county residents.”

“Waverly has nothing else in terms of outreach,” Klopf added. “There’s a big pocket of poverty in Owego, but there also is in Waverly.”

Statistics shared by Klopf illustrate a sharply growing need. Tioga Outreach provided food for 2,521 households and 5,258 individuals in 2006 — nearly triple the previous year’s total of 866 households and 1,953 individuals.

Much of the increased traffic has stemmed from last year’s flooding of the Susquehanna River. Sanchirico observed that Klopf “provided and coordinated essential financial and emotional support and critical assistance with home repair during the flood-recovery efforts.”

“It was some long nights,” Klopf acknowledged.

Klopf said she foresees some leveling off of need, but she and Sanchirico still expect the center to be bustling into the foreseeable future.

“As people hear about our good work, many more are seeking us out as they experience difficulties not related to the flood,” Sanchirico said.

Klopf said the center relies heavily on grants and funding through governmental entities and foundations. She noted that an advisory board was formed last year and an open house for the new Tioga Outreach, held June 21, was well attended by community members.

“There’s more getting our name out there,” she said.

But Klopf observed that steady funding is never a given, saying that “as with all grants, it’s scary every year.” In addition, she said current rental costs for Tioga Outreach are more than double what had been charged at St. James. The former school is being sold by Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes because it cannot generate enough rental income to cover maintenance costs.

Klopf emphasized that donations of cash, clothing, food and volunteer time from local churches, business people and individuals also are crucial to the center’s success. For instance, she said Tioga Outreach recently ran out of flood funding and still needs volunteers for flood relief. She added that food supplies go especially quickly, as do personal-care products, which are not covered by food stamps.

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