Photo by Dave Warner – Assistant Manager Roxanne Hunt presents a check from Stewart’s Shops for $3,000 to Tamara Razzano and Gail Rochette with Community Outreach, as Laura Powers looks on in the background.

Little Falls Community Outreach has been working to address the needs of our community to improve its strength and health for nearly three decades.  These programs address food insecurity, educational needs, youth support, and senior citizens, to name a few. These programs rely on the generous support of other organizations, businesses, and individuals to persevere.  Our local Stewart’s Shop answered the call to action through their Holiday Match Campaign wherein they raised $3,000 for Outreach.

Tamara Razzano, who serves as Pastor for First Presbyterian Church and Executive Director for Outreach, shares, “It is critical that our programs continue.  There are so many families in Little Falls that are below the poverty line. This means a large portion of our district’s students are faced with food scarcity and hunger on a regular basis.  We cannot turn away but must instead turn our heads and hearts toward these families and offer help.”

According to 2019 data from the Census Bureau, 27.9% of the Little Falls population live below the poverty line.  The Outreach’s Backpack Program has been addressing this head-on by providing food to students in need over the years.

When COVID-19 arrived and the shutdown began, Outreach partnered with the Little Falls City School District to continue delivering much-needed food to the students.  They successfully secured grant money and generous donations to make it happen, along with the (ongoing) support of the Central New York Food Bank.

The program was further expanded in 2020 understanding the pandemic’s impact on our community’s families.  It was decided that the Food Backpack Program would continue through summer.  The generosity of the Little Falls YMCA (Youth & Family Center) and volunteers from LF Volunteer Corp helped the program carry on. They were able to provide food 7 days/week to 63 students.  During the 2020-2021 school year, Outreach shares these services with 70 students per week.

Last year, the church launched its Community Garden project. The garden is maintained by volunteers and the food grown will go directly to the Backpack Program.

One of the newer programs developed by Outreach is Rainbow Club which provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and allies (grades 8-12) to discuss issues and receive support throughout Herkimer County. Members meet weekly during the school year and currently include students from the Little Falls, Dolgeville, and Herkimer districts.

“We are grateful to be part of a community that is comprised of people who understand the importance of helping others,” shares Outreach board member, Laura Powers. “In order to be our best, we need to raise others up and let people know that there is support.  We need to let people know that they are not alone.”

Razzano adds, “We are able to bring these services to our community through the hard work of part-time employees we share with the church and many dedicated volunteers, including our board of directors, chaired by Tony Deluca. We appreciate the support that so many individuals and organizations provide us as we work to improve our community’s strength and health.”

When Outreach was officially founded, they adopted the African proverb, “It takes a whole community to raise a child,” so they understand the importance of supporting other non-profits as well. As a show of solidarity for the YWCA of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Outreach constructed a blue pinwheel display (150 total) around the church to support the YW’s Pinwheels for Prevention initiative. April is Child Abuse Awareness month and proceeds from the pinwheels purchased for this display directly benefit programs of the Herkimer County Child Advocacy Center located in Ilion.

Information on the history of Outreach, their team, and their many programs is available at lfcommunityoutreach.com. You can also stay up to date by following their Facebook page, or by contacting them directly at 315-823-1409 or lfcommunityoutreach@gmail.com. Outreach welcomes new individuals or organizations who are interested in getting involved with their mission.