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Ground breaks on new outreach facility for impoverished rural areas

Many of us think of poverty as an inner city problem but the Rural Outreach Center estimates that over 45,000 people in rural areas of Western New York live in poverty.

At ceremony to break ground on the new ROC Central building in East Aurora, Rural Outreach Center Executive Director, Dr. Frank Cerny said his team has had the idea of a centralized facility that provides services to the rural poor for some time.

“We've been trying to discern the needs of the rural poor population in southern Western New York,” he said. “And once we've thought we figured out what those needs were, we began to build out programs. We've been doing that since 2007. So this is a combination of seven, eight years of work.”

For the past few years, Rural Outreach has been working out of an old F.E.M.A. trailer.

Cerny said to meet the rising demand for such things as counseling, care coordination , school supplies and winter clothing, building ROC Central was necessary and he hopes bigger things are in store for the future.

“I suspect our volume will increase, the impact of our programs will increase,” he said. “But my hope is that 10 years from now, there will be satellite rocks all across New York State, if not beyond.”

The Rural Outreach Center also announced their Reaching Out capital campaign has raised $3.5 million.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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