Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 18, 2014

Poverty in the Lock City

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When Constance Thornton got out of jail last year, she knew going back to Niagara Falls would perpetuate a cycle she was desperate to break out of. Needing a change, and virtually homeless, she reached out to Lockport CARES, a local agency who provides temporary housing for people in need of shelter.

“I heard about Lockport CARES while I was in jail from one of the volunteers that was there,” she said, adding that her faith led her to believe she was doing the right thing. “I was nervous, but they were really nice, almost scary nice. I come from a world where people are only nice to you if they want something, so I figured they were either aliens, or God really loves me.”

For Thornton, 31, the respite Lockport CARES offered her has led to her turning her life around. She now has an apartment in Lockport, a job and plans to go back to school.

“It started on a leap of faith,” she said. “Life is happening since then.”

Thornton’s story is one of coming through a hard time with the support of a caring community and being offered the resources to get back on her feet. It’s one Lockport’s churches and human service agencies can point to as they continue to help local residents break out of poverty. 

The good news is that organizations set up to assist impoverished residents in the area have always had good working relationships, and since a Lockport poverty report was released by the John R. Oishei Foundation and the University at Buffalo Regional Institute last spring, area agencies like Lockport CARES and other service providers are now working together more intently to ameliorate the issue. 

“They’ve been very receptive to working in more of a collaborative nature and getting to know their other human service and social service partners,” said Lawrence H. Cook, senior program officer at the Oishei Foundation. “They’re really building together a network where they can make the necessary referrals and things of that nature. There hasn’t been a lot of resistance.”

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