News from the Noteworthy by Opportunities for Otsego Inc.
Community Action Month Reinforces Agency Import
Each May, Community Action agencies across the United States celebrate Community Action Month. For 59 years, this network of dedicated employees, board members, and volunteers have advocated, counseled, encouraged, and educated low-income individuals and families in a collaborative effort to strive for self-sufficiency and economic independence. As a Community Action agency here in Otsego County, Opportunities for Otsego Inc. is proud to join our fellow agencies around the country to recognize the accomplishments and acknowledge the challenges ahead.
Opportunities for Otsego Inc. opened its doors on July 11, 1966 in the basement of the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown. Its first executive director, Alva Welch, laid the groundwork to begin building the agency. In 1967, Operation Head Start (now known simply as Head Start) began working with children and their families under the direction of Esther Fink. Later, women, infants and children, and weatherization services became available for Otsego County residents who qualified.
In 1980, Opportunities for Otsego Inc. moved its offices to 32 Main Street in Oneonta under Opportunities for Otsego’s second executive director, William Harper. And finally built its current facility, at 3 West Broadway in Oneonta, which opened its doors in 1992.
Opportunities for Otsego’s third executive director, Cheri Albrecht, not only was responsible for developing our current facility, but led in the development of several key components at OFO during her tenure. Under her leadership the homeless shelter, domestic violence safe house, the Violence Intervention Program, Early Head Start and Building Healthy Families began to assist underserved families in Otsego County.
Opportunities for Otsego Inc. is proud of its history of meeting the needs of low income and disenfranchised people by creating partnerships that strengthen communities while empowering individuals and families to achieve independence and enrich their quality of life. Opportunities for Otsego Inc. is a proud member of the National Community Action Partnership and a network of more than 1,000 Community Action agencies nationwide that were born out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Community Action agencies across the country connect millions of children, families, and individuals to greater opportunity and guide them on a path toward financial stability.
Years ago, a national leader in Community Action said: “The challenges we face today will be minuscule to the challenges we will face tomorrow.” Providing services in a post-pandemic environment is proof of that in communities across the country.
Each May, during Community Action Month, we reflect on the impact that Opportunities for Otsego Inc. and our network has on families in our area. By working with local governments, law enforcement, elected public officials, school systems, and community organizations, we have been able to create and maintain programs and strategies to help those in need.
Let’s close with the Community Action Promise: “Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.”
Dan Maskin is chief executive officer of Opportunities for Otsego Inc.