Rural Outreach Center

Thomas O'Neil-White

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.

Rural Outreach Center

Some 50-square miles of Erie and Cattaraugus counties that were in rough economic and social shape before the COVID pandemic is in much worse shape now. That is from Rural Outreach Center Executive Director Henry Cerny, whose agency serves the area from an office just outside East Aurora.

WBFO news file

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations that address mental health concerns to adapt. How do you meet a growing need to treat depression, anxiety and trauma? Telehealth is being relied on more than ever in all Western New York communities.

File photo

Pegula Sports & Entertainment, in partnership with the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres foundations, has announced it will provide at least $1.2 million in direct community aid to Western New York residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Andy Golebiowski / WNED

East Aurora’s image stands as a beacon of what you would expect out of a small town. Iconic shops, famous restaurants, Victorian Homes. But that image masks a daunting reality where trailer parks and poverty are more common. WBFO’s Nick Lippa visited the Rural Outreach Center, an organization that serves southwestern New York and supports the needs of the rural poor, including mental health services.

For those in need, Christmas can be a time to ask for the bare necessities. In East Aurora, the Rural Outreach Center helps provide these gifts and more for rural residents willing to engage in some of their programs. That includes taking a financial literacy course.

Rural poverty in Erie County “invisible” to many, advocate asserts

Dec 15, 2017

People often associate poverty with urban areas. But data shows that many rural communities have higher poverty rates and far more challenges when it comes to linking people to services.

A Poverty Forum was held Friday where housing specialists, public health experts, living wage advocates and others will explore a number of issues. Rural poverty was scheduled to be one of the discussion topics.

It's not the expected conversation while sharing a meal for the first time. "I think people who are living in poverty are stereotyped," said Maria Knickerbocker, a social worker with the Rural Outreach Center.

Kirchmyer Media LLC / WBFO News

A college student from East Aurora is running a long distance for a cause, Saturday morning.