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Community Action Organization launches new senior program with COVID-19 relief funds

Community Action Organization of Western New York

The Community Action Organization of Western New York has a new program to assist low-income seniors in the city of Buffalo, thanks to funding from the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus bill.


CAO’s Senior Care Program will offer a transportation service for grocery shopping, food delivery and errands, as well as activity kits, housing assistance and virtual aerobics, the anti-poverty agency announced this week. 


CAO had offered congregate dining and other services for seniors at its community centers throughout Erie County, but the COVID-19 pandemic made such activities impossible.



L. Nathan Hare

“You can't really take the risk of bringing seniors together inside of our facilities and having them exposed because the consequences are so serious for them,” said CEO L. Nathan Hare. “So what we decided to do was to see if we could bring food to seniors.”


CAO will also deliver activity kits, which will include puzzles, cards and board games. There will be a virtual wellness instructor to lead in-home workouts. 


“More ways to keep seniors engaged, keep their bodies working out, keep their mind sharp and to make life as qualitatively better as we possibly can,” Hare said.


The program is funded by a $2.8 million grant from the CARES Act, Congress’ $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill signed into law back in March. Hare said the monies last for 30 months, but CAO hopes to possibly continue the program even after the pandemic is over. 


“It's on us to find other fundings to supplement this funding so that we can get beyond that 30-month period and keep it going beyond that point,” he said.


Currently, CAO is mostly focusing on the city of Buffalo before expanding out to other areas of Erie County. It’s particularly focusing on the zip codes of 14211 and 14215, which are considered two of the city’s two hardest-hit zip codes by COVID-19.


Eligible participants must be 60 years or older, live in Erie County and have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or receive some kind of public assistance, like a Section 8 housing subsidy. 


Those interested in enrolling can call the Pratt Willert Community Center at 852-1671.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.