Have you heard of Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency, Inc. (CSCAA)? If you talk to the Seneca Programs Director of CSCAA, Anne Wilkes, you will find out that it is not just a program that touches the lives of people in need; it touches the lives of those who work in this program. The joy is obvious as Anne relates her stories. Her eyes light up and she cannot help but smile as she tells you how people who come to the agency have impacted her. It demonstrates that we are a community that can help each other; that it does not matter what we have or do not have materially; we have an impact on others that we meet.

The stories:
Food bank – a gentleman came to the office to get some food. He just did not know what to do because he had little food. He had applied for food stamps but had yet to receive the card and so he decided that he had to go to a food bank and get some help. CSCAA was able to do more than just give him food. They followed up on his application for food stamps and were able to straighten things out so that he received his card. However, it was the wrong PIN. Again, CSCAA followed through and the gentleman was given the correct card and $496 in back payment so that he could, for the first time in months, go shopping for food and finally get enough for many healthy meals. It was something simple that CSCAA could do but the gentleman could not have been happier.

CSCAA has a food bank where people can come and get a variety of food to meet their needs. They also have clothing at no cost to those who can use it. There is an emergency baby pantry service for parents who have trouble meeting all the costs that come with children, such as diapers.
Emergency housing needs – a woman with a spinal injury needed to be on disability but it was not happening. She could not work so for the first time in her life (approximately 55 years) she could not pay rent. She felt helpless because she could not figure out how she was going to be homeless with a disability. CSCAA was able to help her cover rent and advocate for her. The woman was able to continue to live in her home and not have to worry about becoming homeless in her condition.

CSCAA provides emergency housing costs when situations become desperate and people do not know what to do. They can also advocate for people to help them receive services with other organizations.

Emergency utility payments – another family had a sick child that had to be moved to a hospital near Philadelphia. The parents had to travel to see the child. They set up a air mattress in the back of the vehicle so that they could sleep in that and save the cost of a hotel. In the meantime, things were falling behind back at home because they were not there to keep up on all of it. To their dismay they received word that the utilities were going to be turned off. In despair, they turned to CSCAA who helped them keep their electric and gas on. With this gift that CSCAA was able to give them, they were able to continue to care for their child.

CSCAA offers those in need help with utility payments so that lives can continue without the fear that homes will be ruined with utilities cut off. It brings peace of mind for people who need to have their minds on more important issues.

Sitting behind her desk, Anne humbly tells these stories of real people with the realization that she was able to provide services with the provisions given to Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency. Her excitement is catching and it is not just excitement about the program helping people; it is the excitement of a person who has been touched by others, people who have taught her to appreciate who we are and what we have.

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