August 21, 2013

Editorial: Help worthy fund grow


---- — Sometimes, people in desperate situations feel they have nowhere to turn.

Take this real example: A Franklin County senior citizen was under Hospice care for terminal cancer. She was living with her son on the family farm, but he was hampered by agoraphobia that kept him restricted to home. A difficult enough situation, right? Then their plumbing went bad and their well pump needed replacement. They had no money for the repairs and thought there was nowhere to turn.

But “Neighbors” were ready to help.

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors fund was established by Northern Insuring in Plattsburgh on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. Set up with seed money of $7,500, the fund has grown to $20,000 under the administration of the Lake Placid-based Adirondack Community Trust.

The trust set about trying to enhance the Neighbors Helping Neighbors fund, matching the first $5,000 in donations sent by members of the public. Over the years since its establishment, the fund has grown to $20,000, with the interest each year — about $1,000, at this point — available to help people in trouble.

At its inception, the American Red Cross was responsible for determining when and where Neighbors Helping Neighbors funds would be used. But due to changes with banking accounts for the local Red Cross chapter, a new entity was needed to decide on the fund’s use.

As of last year, responsibility for allocating the Neighbors money has been placed with the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity. It is a perfect spot for this personal type of help because JCEO representatives are out among the neediest people in Clinton and Franklin counties and are in a good position to see the kinds of gaps in services that leave some local residents feeling without hope.

JCEO Chief Executive Officer Bruce Garcia would like to see the fund re-invigorated, so they will have more money to use to alleviate despair in our area.

He said the fund can fill in where no other services are available, bringing relief to “people in trouble through no fault of their own.” Garcia gave a hypothetical example of how the money might be used: Say a worker becomes disabled and is waiting for approval of disability insurance. The Neighbors Helping Neighbors fund could provide money to help with the transition period.

He has seen what a difference the Neighbors fund made for the dying Franklin County woman whose plumbing problems resulted in dreadful living conditions and for others in need.

Anyone who wants to help can send donations to Neighbors Helping Neighbors fund in care of Adirondack Community Trust,

P.O. Box 288, Lake Placid, NY 12946 or online at

We think JCEO is the perfect place for this fund to connect with our neighbors in need.