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Fighting poverty takes center stage at event recognizing Community Action Month

Action for a Better Community, Inc. (ABC) hosted a Community Action Month celebration and resource event at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Rochester on Saturday, 5/18/24.
Stephanie Ballard-Foster
/
WXXI News
Action for a Better Community, Inc. (ABC) hosted a Community Action Month celebration and resource event at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Rochester on Saturday, 5/18/24.

Action for a Better Community, Inc. (ABC) hosted a Community Action Month Celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Park this past weekend. The event, held on Saturday, highlighted the role of community action in combating poverty and promoting economic mobility.

ABC President and CEO Jerome Underwood launched the celebrations, marking 60 years of community action with over 1,000 agencies. Founded in December 1964, ABC aims to eradicate poverty through collaboration with over 30 entities, focusing on empowering individuals and systemic change.

"We collectively are looking at closing the racial wealth gap via increasing home ownership amongst people of color," Underwood said. "Right now, there's a 40% gap in homeownership between our Caucasian brothers and sisters and people who are African American. That is unacceptable."

Underwood emphasized the importance of policy changes to address poverty's challenges. He also announced that ABC will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday, May 22. During the meeting, the agency will review its achievements, including successes in the Head Start program, workforce development efforts and health programs.

Various banks and realtors participated in the event, including Karina Hernandez, Mortgage Loan Officer at M&T Bank. Hernandez, representing the Greenlining Coalition Initiative with ABC, focused on addressing redlining challenges and finding solutions to help Black and brown communities become successful homeowners.

“Something that I want to share that my mother always said to me — and this proves right even to this point as I am a mother and in the line of work that I do," Hernandez said, "is don't leave for tomorrow what you can do today."

Hernandez advised the Black and brown communities to contact banks, do research, and not dismiss homeownership opportunities.

Having migrated from Puerto Rico, Hernandez now considers herself a native of Rochester and takes pride in serving the lower-income Black and brown communities.

Stephanie Ballard-Foster is a general assignment reporter at WXXI News.