PORT EWEN, N.Y. — “When times are tough, that little bit of extra food always helps,” Martha said recently, describing the assistance she and her family have received from the Ulster County Community Action Agency.
Martha (not her real name), 46, said she, her husband, their three children and three other friends with whom they share their Port Ewen home are more independent now than eight or nine years ago, when the family began receiving assistance from the Kingston-based agency, but that they'll never forget the help they received when they needed it most.
“They’ve always been so lovely, they always tried to reach out and let you know what’s out there. They’re a great outreach program,” she said.
Martha said her husband has picked up food for the family at Community Action's 70 Lindsley Ave. location in Kingston, but it also can be delivered to families that lack transportation. She said her household has received help applying for home heating assistance through the HEAP program and with Christmas gifts for her children, ages 8 to 17.
With so many in the household, Martha said, it’s “tough most of the time.” But the kids are getting older and “they don’t believe in Santa anymore, so it’s a little easier," she said.
Martha and her husband found Community Action a few years back when they were living paycheck to paycheck and he was volunteering for the agency as a truck driver and found out about the services they offer, she said.
“As time’s gone on, we haven’t needed as much services because me and my husband are both working,” she said. “But they were helpful when we were in need. I only got off public assistance about four years ago so it’s helped out a lot to get us through.”
According to Ulster County Community Action's website, the agency is “committed to eliminating poverty and promoting self-sufficiency by providing various programs and services for individuals and families serving Ulster and Sullivan counties.”
Martha said the agency requires annual income verification from recipients but treats applicants with respect and dignity.
“I think they’re wonderful in the office," she said. "There’s never any judgement or anything towards you. I was never uncomfortable."
Donations to the nonprofit Ulster County Community Action Agency may be made online, at uccac.org/donate, or in person at the Lindsley Avenue office in Kingston.