Breakfast with Santa Helps HOC

Breakfast with SantaThe Seneca Falls Fire Department will be holding a Breakfast with Santa Sunday December 15th 2013 from 8-12. They will be collecting canned goods for the House of Concern. Folks who bring a non-perishable item for the Seneca County House of Concern will receive $1 off their breakfast.

The event will take place at the Seneca Falls Vol. Fire Dept station at 2528 Lower Lake Road Seneca Falls, NY 13148. (Just north of the Cayuga Lake State Park and The Deerhead Inn).

$8 – Adults
$7 – Seniors & Students
FREE – Children under 5

For more information, please contact Yogi at or 315-651-2657

Federal Shut Down Effecting Food Delivery in Seneca County

Food BasketFaced with a 15% cut in funding already in place, and a pending further cut of $4 billion annually, local food pantries and Foodlink, a Rochester based Food Hub that supplies 4 million pounds of food to hungry people in 10 counties were already deeply concerned about being able to provide the basic food needs of people.

The shutdown of the government has multiplied that concern. The shutdown has already cut off the flow of food to Rochester Foodlink, which supplies local food pantries. The government funding is about a quarter of Foodlink’s total budget. If the government shutdown continues, several federally funded nutritional programs will be out of money by the end of the month.

Foodlink has told the food pantries it supplies they may need to ration supplies until the government reopens. “In the face of an increase in demand, coupled with a shrinking food supply, there is absolutely no way we’d be able to meet the need,” said Jeanette Batiste, Foodlink’s chief operating officer.

HOC Foodlink Truck
People waited in line for supplemental food at the House of Concern provided through Foodlink. The Federal Government shutdown has put food delivery to Foodlink on hold.

At the same time two other factors are ominous for the local food supply. First, the numbers of people coming to local pantries is at an all time high, up more than 25% in just the last quarter. Second, current cuts in SNAP will mean $11/month cut in food subsidies.

The cuts effect the most vulnerable people, with single parents, the elderly, the disabled and children receive the bulk of the food from local pantries. Many of the folks receiving food are working part-time jobs with no benefits, many of which pay near minimum wage.

Notes from the Board President

SNAPAs the Federal Government shutdown continues, it may surprise you to see that the Supplemental Nutrition Program is not considered “essential.”

We note that paying Congress IS considered essential, but feeding people is not.

In November, our SNAP recipients will see a cut in their food subsidy by $11. When the average SNAP funding amounts to about $1.50/meal, $11 per month is hardly insignificant. Our main source of food, Foodlink of Rochester, has already told us our grant for food going forward will be cut by 15% because of funding cuts to their program.

Meanwhile our numbers are up by more than 25% over last year. Clearly a 15% cut in funding, the shuttering of the SNAP program – even if temporary – and a 25% rise in the folks needing food from the House of Concern and the other four food pantries in Seneca County is a recipe for disaster.

We already have more than 1300 folks who are food insecure just counting the folks coming to the Hose of Concern. Last month we were responsible for providing more than 20,000 meals.

Our community has always been generous, but the current need is overwhelming and the situation is only getting worse. Please consider raising your donation to the House of Concern this year.

Minimum Wage IncreaseAlso consider letting your representatives know if you think government priorities need to change. Consider the fact that in Seneca County, businesses receive several millions of dollars in tax breaks annually for job creation. That sounds like money well spent, but many of those jobs will require further subsidies on the other end because they do not provide enough income to allow the wage-earners to feed their families. A full time minimum wage worker cannot feed a family. It’s that simple. The majority of the folks coming to the House of Concern are working. Those who are not are most likely to be children, disabled or elderly.

We don’t have any “surfer dudes” in Seneca County, and SNAP is one of the least abused and most effective government programs in existence in spite of the spin that the media puts on the extremely rare cases of abuse.

We are left with few choices. If corporate subsidies are a good thing, even if the jobs created do not pay a living wage, we must be prepared to increase the subsidies on the other end so people can get the food they need if the jobs being created do not pay enough to support a wage-earner’s family. Currently we are subsidizing the creation of minimum wage jobs and cutting subsidies to the people who work those jobs. Of course many firms also use their subsidies to help create good paying jobs (Goulds Pumps is a good example), but a look at the statistics shows by far the largest numbers of newly created jobs are at the lowest end of the wage spectrum. The imbalance is very real and we see it in the rising numbers at the House of Concern. By far the largest increase in our numbers comes from people who are working.

Alternatively, we can ask employers to pay their workers a living wage so they will not need to rely on programs like SNAP, which would have the added benefit of doing away with the cost of administering food programs and give folks the ability to get off of subsidies. Shouldn’t having a full-time job mean you can feed your kids?

A continuation of the status quo will only result in more hungry people in Seneca County, and it is unsustainable. We cannot feed more people with less money.

Stephen Beals
President, Board of Directors
Seneca County House of Concern



Buying from the Thrift Store Helps EVERYONE!

New Beginnings Thrift Sore Manager Bob Adkins rings up a sale.

The New Beginnings Thrift Store at 35 State Street, just up the street from the downtown business district is not just a place for great bargains on gently used merchandise including clothing and household goods. Each purchase helps benefit those in need.

We sometimes hear that folks don’t want to by items from the Thrift store because they fear it might be taking something away that someone with a greater need could use. The truth is, we have plenty of inventory and no one will miss out.

On the contrary, your purchase at New Beginnings makes it possible to stock our food pantry shelves. Last year those purchases – which are often 25 cents, 50 cents, or $1 or $2  – added up to over $60,000 we could use to support those in need. It really does make a huge difference and helps us put food on the table for thousands of folks right here in Seneca County.

We like to think of it as putting our money where people’s mouths are.

Bad Mix: Increased Demand for Food & Cuts in Donations

HOClogoThe increase in Seneca County families seeking food assistance this year is unprecedented, and it comes at the worst possible time: a time when government funding cuts and the typical downturn in donations during the summer months also hit.

A vast majority of the clientele coming to the Seneca County House of Concern are working at least one part-time job. Many of the others are disabled or elderly. The media image of a “moocher” taking advantage of an overly generous government dole is way off the mark. You are much more likely to see Veterans and people who have been laid off or disabled who are genuinely afraid they won’t be able to feed their kids. Many are forced to make the decision between food and heat. One of the most common needs is for enough gas to get to their jobs.


Although there are legitimate concerns about the impact of raising the minimum wage, the clients at the House of Concern illustrate the other side of that coin. People in Seneca County can work a full time or two part-time part time jobs and still not make enough to feed their families.

NEWBeginningsBoutiqueAccording to an MIT study, the living wage in Seneca County NY for a family with two adults and two children would be $18.20/hour. The study notes that anything less than $10.80/hour would be considered a “poverty wage,” meaning barely sufficient to meet the basic needs of the family. In other words, the so-called “minimum wage” is more than $3/hour less than the “poverty wage.” In terms of real dollars, the minimum wage has dropped more than $2/hour since the last time it was raised. The minimum wage in New York will rise to $9/hr over a three year period starting with a 75 cents per hour increase Dec.31 of this year.

At the same time, the majority of jobs available in the county pay below the “living wage” level wages, and some, such as food preparation and serving pay below the poverty level. Here are the typical wages paid in this county for various types of work, according to the study. Note that these are median wages, not the lowest or highest wages in each category.


Healthcare Support $13.17
Food Preparation and Serving Related $9.61
Building and Grounds Cleaning and maintenance $13.32
Personal care and Services $10.99
Sales and Related $13.38
Office and Administrative Support $16.37
Farming, Fishing and Forestry $13.36
Production $14.83
Transportation and Material Moving $15.53

For the complete study, click HERE.

It should be noted that some of the people earning minimum wage are teens living at home or trainees on their way to higher paying jobs. But, increasingly, older workers supporting families have had to accept minimum wage employment. It is reported that the average worker at McDonalds nationwide is 28, not the stereotypical teenager working after school for date money.


Minimum wageThat trend can be clearly seen during the intake process at the House of Concern. Although the individual records are confidential, looked at as a whole, they indicate that a large number of the clients are working, but that having a job doesn’t mean the job pays above a poverty wage, or anywhere close to a “living wage.” They also indicate that the numbers of people in the county working in these types of positions have increased dramatically. The downside of increased tourism is the fact that many of the new jobs created by increased tourism are in fields that pay low wages. At the same time, a decrease in the county’s industrial base also means fewer “living wage” job opportunities.

It is not difficult to see the reasons for the increase in demand for food at the county’s five food pantries. A solution is much harder to come by. A vast majority of the employers in Seneca County have employees who use the services of area food pantries. It has become a fact of life, if a disturbing one.

Economists argue both sides of the issue. Raising wages will, most agree, decrease the number of jobs. But it will also increase (again, most agree) the amount of money spent, the amount of sales tax collected and so on. The consensus of most economic studies appears to be that raising the wage has a net zero effect on employment. That is, the number of jobs lost are replaced by the number created by the increased economic activity generated by more money flowing into the local economy. Of course the net effect of empowering people to be self-sufficient and not need to look for charitable support is more difficult to measure.

In any case, pay scale is not the only issue. Recent cuts in Federal funding to programs like Foodlink, which supplies much of the food distributed by the House of Concern and other food pantries, have cut the amount of food available. At the same time, cuts in funds for other social services, such as subsidies for housing, fuel, day care etc., has placed an even greater financial burden on poor families, many of which have been forced to accept SNAP and come to the area food pantries for the first time in their lives.


Right now, in Seneca County and throughout the region, food pantries are also experiencing the rather typical cycle of decreased donations. The summer months are traditionally slow times for donations, but the demand for food goes up during the summer because many of the school-age children who receive subsidies for lunches at school are now home for the summer, adding a further strain on the family finances.

Minimum Wage IncreaseFor now, the only real solution for local food pantries like the House of Concern is to raise the funds coming in, and do what they can to lower the funds going out. The HOC has done this by increasing their fund-raising activities, like this Spring’s Little Black Dress Fashion show, opening a new consignment shop in downtown Seneca Falls to reach new buyers, and doing things like lowering the ceilings in the New Beginnings Thrift Store on State Street and obtaining new grants for special projects.

The Board has also named a “Volunteer Volunteer Coordinator” to help run the various operations of the thrift store and food pantry. The organization has also helped educate potential recipients on how to apply for SNAP and other programs and has leveraged new support from existing Foodlink programs to increase the amount of food available.

One of the ironies is that although all House of Concern employees make more than minimum wage, most make less than the MIT study’s “poverty wage.”


The easiest and most painless way to help with the current crunch is to buy items from either of the New Beginnings stores – New Beginnings Thrift store at 35 State Street or the New Beginnings Boutique at 91A Fall Street. The thrift store has a vast quantity of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as household furnishings and accessories, books, CDs and DVDs and more. The Boutique features previously enjoyed women’s fashions and accessories including many designer label clothes. Items may also be brought in for sale on consignment.

Donations of goods and services and volunteering can also help. Please make sure the items you donate are genuinely something you would buy yourself. If you look at the item wonder if it should go to the House of Concern or simply be thrown away, chances are it should be thrown away. Please don’t bring broken appliances. When you bring your items, please bring them during regular store hours. If you have an item that needs to be picked up, it may take a few days to arrange for pick-up since the HOC relies on volunteer labor and trucks for most of the pick-ups.

If you are able to, summer is a great time to make a donation because it’s a big help to have a bit of extra income during traditionally lean times.  If you can make it an EXTRA donation, even better.

Notes from the Director

HOClogoREVHappy Summer to you all! Hopefully you are enjoying your summer. We have all been extra busy here at The House of Concern. It seems that each summer gets a little bit busier.

We opened the New Beginnings Boutique consignment shop on Fall Street in July. It is really a very nice shop and if you have not had a chance to check it, out make sure you do so. We are very proud of it. We are still accepting clothing either as a donation or you can sell them to us. Its a great way to recycle your wardrobe, make a little money and support a good cause. The proceeds go to keep our Food Pantry running 5 days a week, 6 hours a day.

It takes a lot to do so these days. Every month the number of clients that we serve gets larger and larger. For the month of July we served more than at any time ever. We have been steadily rising over the last several months but this July we had a very sharp increase. That is because children are home and families are having a difficult time keeping them fed and paying the bills. Lots of these families are used to their children being fed at school, often twice a day. Having them home strains an already strained budget.

We are part of the Summer Backpack Program again this year. We are serving about 75 children twice a week with food. We have a great group of volunteers who have made this possible. We could not have done it without them.

Summer is such a difficult time for most food pantries. Donations drop, volunteers go on vacation, but the needs continue. We have been blessed this year to be part of Foodlinks Retail Donation. Stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and BJ’s have been donating foods to us through Foodlink. I must say that without them we would not be able to meet the sort of needs that we have been experiencing. It simply would not be possible. So a huge Thank-You to all those stores and to Foodlink for making this possible.

We continue to hold the Mobile Pantries at our site. This has also been very successful. It takes a good group of hard working volunteers to pull it off but we have been fortunate enough to have those. You can read more about the Mobile Pantry in this newsletter.
Last, I leave you with this. I have been spending a long time on getting all our files entered into the computer.

What that has done is really brought home to me how many working families we have as clients. This is definitely the biggest increase we have seen. I doubt that you can name a business around here that does not have someone, often many someones, who can’t afford to feed their families even though they are working.

So when you think of what the face of a Food Pantry recipient might look like, look at your neighbor, or your co-worker, your mom, the waitress who serves your lunch, your child, yourself, because that is who we serve.
Thank you for your continued support ~

Concert to Benefit House of Concern

Piano KeyboardA piano concert this Sunday will benefit the Seneca County House of Concern. The piano recital by Ping’s Piano Studio will be held on July 28th @4 pm at The First Methodist Church, at the corner of State St. and Chapel Street, Seneca Falls.


Get Connected Electronically

Connect“Get Connected Electronically.” Did you know there are several ways you can get               “up-to-the-minute news” from the House of Concern? Send an email message to  if you would like to receive the newsletter by email. You will help the House of Concern to make better use of its financial resources by saving us on postage costs. Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

Check out the House of Concern’s website at you can even sign up to get email notifications when our website is updated.

“Like” Seneca County House of Concern on Facebook!

Or follow us on twitter: draheim55

You can even make secure donations electronically by clicking HERE.

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Wednesday, July 17th

New Beginnings BoutiqueSeneca Chamber to Co-Host Ribbon Cutting Ceremony & Grand Opening for House of Concern’s New Beginnings Boutique

from Seneca Daily

The Seneca County Chamber of Commerce will co-host an upcoming ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening event to celebrate the growth and expansion for one of its local members, the Seneca County House of Concern. New Beginnings Boutique is a newly opened consignment shop that is owned and operated by the House of Concern, and is managed by Lynn Wimmer.

The event will include photo opportunities with a short presentation, and will take place on Wednesday July 17 at 11:00am at New Beginnings Boutique, located at 91A Fall Street in Seneca Falls. The boutique will offer a 10% discount on any items purchased from Wednesday, July 17th through Saturday, July 20th. Light refreshments will be served to those in attendance.

HOClogoHouse of Concern Executive Director Diane Draheim stated her excitement for the expansion. “We are so pleased with this new venture, and really look forward to this open house event as an opportunity to open our doors to the
community, where local residents, businesses and community partners can stop in to see and hear firsthand what we are all about.”

The Seneca County Chamber of Commerce hopes for this exact same outcome.

“Ribbon Cutting and Open House Events are just one of the many services that we can offer to help enhance exposure for our members while marketing their businesses; and truly reap the benefits of Chamber Membership,” said Cassandra Harrington, the Chamber’s Membership Services Coordinator.

Left to Right, Bob Adkins, store manager of the New Beginnings Thrift Shop at the House of Concern on State Street, Lynne Wimmer, store manager for the New Beginnings Boutique on Fall Street, and Rev. Eleanor Collinsworth, House of Concern Board Treasurer and Chair of the Boutique Committee.

Draheim noted that the organization strives in continuing efforts towards greater awareness while participating in new projects that may result in
additional donations or other ways that benefit or assist with their causes. “Our goal is to never have to turn folks away that are in need,” she added.

The Seneca County House of Concern is a local non-profit organization established in 1969, and specializes in securing and providing food support, clothing, furniture and household items to those in need, while assisting
with other direct services such as providing advocacy for individuals.

The House of Concern joined the Chamber of Commerce in 2012 and already has taken advantage of several business and networking benefits that the Chamber provides. They were one of the local recipients to benefit from Finger Lakes Cork & Fork’s efforts towards combating hunger. Cork & Fork- a regional food, wine and agri-tourism event, is held each September at Rodman Lott & Son Farms in Seneca Falls and is managed by the Chamber. In 2012 the House of Concern was presented with a monetary donation as well as non perishable items that were collected from food drives arranged during event promotions. The 2013 Finger Lakes Cork & Fork festival will be held on Friday-Saturday, September 20-21.

Foodlink HOC
House of Concern Board members Rev. Eleanor Collinsworth and Phil Dressing distribute food at a recent Foodlink delivery.

For more information about Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies, and Open House events, or for more details about marketing opportunities within Chamber membership,
please contact the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce at (315) 568-2906 or visit

The Basics:

Grand Open House Event- Expansion Reception. New Beginnings Boutique consignment store, newly opened under the Seneca County House of Concern.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with photo opportunities: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 11am

New Beginnings Boutique, 91A Fall Street, Seneca Falls, NY 13148.

To offer the community an opportunity to view, shop and support the fight against hunger in Seneca County.

The boutique will offer a 10% discount on any items purchased from Wednesday, July 17th through Saturday, July 20th. Light refreshments will be served to those in attendance.

Shop details: The store will concentrate on selling high-end and designer clothes, handbags, shoes and jewelry for women.

Hours of Operation:
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 11am – 6pm
Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm

Please call 315.568.4401 for more information or visit

New Beginnings Boutique Now Open on Fall Street

NBB first sale
New Beginnings Boutique Store Manager Lynne Wimmer and House of Concern Executive Director Diane Draheim make a transaction at the new store, which will officially open on Wednesday on Fall Street, Seneca Falls.

There is a new retail business in downtown Seneca Falls and it won’t make a dime. But that’s the way it is intended to be. Instead of profits, all proceeds will go to feeding the hungry in Seneca County.

The Seneca County House of Concern, faced with a staggering growth in need and dwindling government funding will be opening the New Beginnings Boutique next door to Women Made Products and directly across Fall Street from Parkers restaurant.

The new venture will be run by store manager Lynne Wimmer. Wimmer joined the staff last month for the opening day on Wednesday, June 19th.  The staff of the House of Concern and volunteers worked for the past month preparing the space by tearing down walls, putting in new floors and creating a dressing room and sales counter.

HOC New Beginnings BoutiqueThe New Beginnings Boutique has begun accepting clothing as donations or on consignment. The plan is to buy clothing outright for resale. Persons with items for consignment are asked to make an appointment to have their clothing evaluated for possible purchases and to limit the number of items being offered to 15 pieces. The store concentrates on selling high-end and designer clothes, handbags, shoes and jewelry for women.

“This store will be quite different from the New Beginnings Thrift Store which shares space with the House of Concern food pantry on State Street,” says House of Concern Board President, Stephen Beals. “We’ll be looking for high-end merchandise and Lynne, Bob and the volunteers have been working hard to make the store an inviting place for bargain hunters. There’s a real trend for shopping at consignment stores, and we were very fortunate to find someone with the expertise and experience of Lynne to help us create a great little shop right in the middle of downtown Seneca Falls.”

Left to Right, Bob Adkins, store manager of the New Beginnings Thrift Shop at the House of Concern on State Street, Lynne Wimmer, store manager for the New Beginnings Boutique on Fall Street, and Rev. Eleanor Collinsworth, House of Concern Board Treasurer and Chair of the Boutique Committee.

But the bottom line for both New Beginnings stores is that all proceeds go directly for buying food for Seneca County’s hungry. Although the organization has been around since 1969, there has never been anywhere close to the number of food insecure families. “Our raw numbers of families and individuals served has more than doubled in the last five years, while at the same time our funding from government sources has been cut significantly. We simply had to make significant changes to respond to the growing needs in our community,” says House of Concern Executive Director Diane Draheim. “In May we were responsible for providing more than 17,000 meals for people in or county.”

The store opening on Wednesday was actually a “soft” opening, with a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting scheduled for July 17th.  The store hours on Wednesday will be from 11-5 and the store will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Wimmer says they will determine what hours they will be open based on store traffic and customer demand. The store is looking for volunteers with a strong retail background and great customer service skills who would like to offer their expertise to help with the new effort.

The New Beginnings Boutique is located at 91A Fall Street and the phone number is 316-568-4401.