CHAZY - The sounds of bluegrass and country music will fill the auditorium of Chazy Central Rural School in an effort to help the underprivileged of Clinton County.
The Gibson Brothers, a well-known musical duo of Ellenburg natives Eric and Leigh Gibson, will host a concert at the school Saturday, Jan. 24, to raise money for Family Promise of Clinton County. The organization is a network of local churches that volunteers use of their space to provide shelter and meals for families who find themselves without a home.
Maureen Bradish, the organization's director, said the event is one she hopes will help keep Family Promise's services afloat.
"Right now, our budget is looking pretty grim," said Bradish. "We're worried because of the state of the economy."
Family Promise is part of a national program, explained Bradish, which works with homeless families referred to the program by the local Department of Social Services. Funding from the program comes mainly through the United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties and through member items secure through the state legislature. However, given the recession the nation faces, Bradish is afraid less people will be inclined to make donations and state funding could disappear.
"We're thinking that money's not going to be there," said Bradish.
The only other major fundraiser Family Promise holds is a golf tournament in the summer, said Bradish. The ability to rely heavily on that event isn't as plausible these days, she said.
As much as funding for the program in the near future is a concern for her, Bradish said she's also concerned for the people Family Promise helps. The troubled economy may force even more people onto the streets, especially during a time when they would face dangerous, frigid temperatures.
"Affordable housing is really not out there," she said. "Rents keep going up, but minimum wage doesn't and a lot of my families work earning minimum wage. That's why we're here."
During the day, if the family members aren't working or in school, they are welcomed at a day center in the organization's offices on Brinkerhoff Street. The organization helps those they serve based on their individual needs, said Bradish. If a person is in need of a job, they connect them with OneWorkSource, a local employment placement agency. Pregnant women in need of assistance are connected with the Clinton County Health Department's Medicaid Obstetrical Maternal Services, or MOMS Program, which helps them with finding services related to their pregnancy.
"We don't want to reinvent the services that area already there. So, we work with ones that are already in the community," said Bradish.
In the evening hours, places of worship offer the families a place to stay and warm meals.
"We try to offer them a situation that's an alternative to being stuck in a run-down motel outside of town where they have a harder time changing their situation," said Bradish.
Despite the negative image some people have when thinking about the homeless, Bradish said they're people just like anyone else, though they've fallen on hard times.
"They don't want to be homeless," she said.
When hearing the word homeless, most also tend to think of more urban areas like New York City, where pedestrians step over disheveled looking men and women who sleep on the streets, said Bradish. In Clinton County, it's a different scenario. While most don't see people living on the streets, it doesn't mean there aren't homeless people out there, she said.
"It's a big problem here. It's a big problem everywhere," said Bradish. "And, it's important for people to know it's not just a city of Plattsburgh problem either. We get referrals from Chazy, Ellenburg - the whole county."
"People think it's not a problem. But, it is," she reiterated.
This Saturday's concert will help combat that problem with its proceeds, said Bradish. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with the show to start at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Dick's Country Store and Music Oasis, 7429 U.S. Route 11, Churubusco, or at Family Promise,36 Brinkerhoff St.
For more information, call Family Promise at 562-0710.