The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA) started a national movement of agencies working to fight the “War on Poverty”. The emphasis on local change led to the name: Community Action. In 1965, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Orleans County appointed a committee to study ways in which Orleans County might become a part of this movement. An action committee was formed to study local needs for housing, migrant labor, and youth training, as well as problems facing older Americans. An agency was formed under the name Orleans Community Action Committee, Inc., or OCAC. In July 1965, anti-poverty programming began with: Head Start, Family Planning, Legal Aid, Neighborhood Youth Corp., and People’s Opportunity.
In those first few years, Head Start and later CHAP (Children’s Health Assurance Program) were formed to teach children and help with good health practices, along came our satellite office in Holley, (Eastern Orleans Community Center) to assist with senior Citizens and pre-schoolers, CATS (Community Action Transportation System) to transport senior citizens, and CARES (Community Action Resource & Educational service) which was a mobile van travelling the County informing residents of the programs available under the newly formed Orleans Community Action Committee.
Since 1965, some programs were spun off and other programs and services were extended into Genesee County. Today, we have grown to be an agency with an operating budget of over seven million dollars and employ over 120 people. We have added such programs and services as Emergency Services and Food Pantry, Weatherization, RESTORE, Child Care Resource and Referral, ACT – Helping Youth ACT Responsibly, Budgeting Workshops, Energy packaging, an alternate HEAP site, Tax Assistance, The Main Street Store, Early Head Start, Community Action Angels.
In December, 2007, the Board of Directors decided to change the agency’s name to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee to unify the agency’s image and better reflect its service area. The new name became official in February, 2008, and the Board adopted a new logo in the spring.
Today we continue our work with a renewed focus on helping people to become self-sufficient. We continually analyze data and solicit community feedback to adjust our programs to meet the greatest needs, while working with partners to build a stronger community.