Community Place celebrates 20 years of serving the community

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Community Place of Greater Rochester is celebrating 20 years of serving the community in 2021.

CEO Scott Benjamin discussed the origin of the Community Place and the critical services it provides Monday during News 8 at Noon.

“It’s interesting because it’s the 20th anniversary of organizations that go back 100 years!” explained Benjamin. “Community Place of Greater Rochester came about 20 years ago when Genesee Settlement House, Lewis Street Center, and Eastside Community Center all merged. Our focus is still the northeast quadrant of Rochester and Community Place is a comprehensive human service provider, neighborhood-based, from programs for the very young – preschool – right through our aging program and Senior Center, and Senior Companions.”

New York State recently extended the COVID-19 pandemic eviction moratorium to the end of August. Community Place is helping people stay in their homes. “Our Family Services Department is really in this arena,” Benjamin said. “We’ve always provided a small amount of rental mortgage assistance through some smaller pots of money but we have been the recipient of federal funds coming through the County and City for something called EPPI, the Eviction Prevention Pilot Initiative. So we were part of the first pilot at the end of last year where we distributed over $600,000 in about three months or three and a half months to help people with back rent and mortgage payments. We actually are double that this year with the stimulus money that was previously approved and there could be more coming. I think the big thing going forward that we’re all concerned about is what’s going to happen at the end of August. Some of the information that we receive is that, while many people have turned to us and we’ve gone through this funding quickly, there are many more that because they currently might not be able to be evicted may not have even scratched the surface of what the need out there is going to be.”

Benjamin noted Community Place never fully shut down during the pandemic because it provides essential services. That said, the organization is anticipating expanding what it offers this summer. “We’ve never fully shut down because of essential programs, but a lot of programs involving youth and other populations either went virtual or shrunk the in-person elements quite a bit. When we look at the summer what we’ve had to do is, we’re going to do about half of the number of campers in our summer enrichment program that we would normally have, so about 70 youth in that Kindergarten through eighth grade age range. So we’ve just had to be creative but we’ll still have summer enrichment that includes everything from the sports and play to STEM activities and trying to support that educational component so there’s no summer learning loss.”

To learn more about Community Place and support its programming, visit CommunityPlace.org.

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