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The need is steadily growing for the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity

The community-action agency provides an array of vital services

Bruce Garcia, CEO of JCEO, said the group’s mission is to provide services and resources that enhance people’s dignity and self reliance.

Bruce Garcia, CEO of JCEO, said the group’s mission is to provide services and resources that enhance people’s dignity and self reliance. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

The Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin counties is dedicated to providing resources and services that enhance people’s dignity and self reliance.

“We offer a variety of programs and community outreach programs here and in 10 centers throughout the county,” said Bruce Garcia, chief executive officer for JCEO. “We do emergency services throughout the area that assist families with eviction and utility shut off and more.

“Such situations are very common.”

One such service JCEO, which was established in 1965, offers is a food shelf in Plattsburgh and each center it operates.

The shelves are partly stocked with donations from businesses such as Sam’s Club, Walmart and Target, as well as local vendors.

“We probably service between 500 to 600 families a month through food pantries,” Garcia said. “It is significant.”

JCEO also operates a daycare program that assists providers in becoming certified, such as by providing items like a fence.

JCEO helps in-home daycare providers get reimbursed for providing nutritious snacks and meals.

The energy-services department offers weatherization that helps make homes more energy efficient. It also provides a variety of programs to help individuals obtain loans to make their homes more energy efficient.

Head Start through JCEO can be found in 10 centers in Clinton County and seven in Franklin county. The agency further has three home-based visitor programs where workers enter areas not large enough to support a Head Start center.

“Head Start helps prepare kids for kindergarten and takes a holistic approach to working with families,” Garcia said. “We have family workers who work directly with families on a host of issues, such as budgeting and looking for a job. All activities that enhance the family to help the child.

“We are funded to serve 337 children and their families.”

That is not nearly the need that exists in the two counties, he pointed out.

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