JOHNSBURG - With the current economic backdrop, a greater number of people need help achieving sustenance and access to basic amenities. The North Country Outreach Center - a local, secular non-profit - is doing its best to keep up with the ever-rising demand for assistance by expanding programs and offering more than 'basic needs'.
"Our sense is that in our community a lot of people have only been marginally making it for a long time," said NCOC General Manager Andrea Hogan. "Many people find it difficult to ask for help and they continue to fall farther behind."
The center offers a food pantry, free clothing, internet and computer access, yoga, gardening classes just a name a few.
"We are working on changing the food pantry model as we speak," Hogan said. "People will be able to basically shop within a set of guidelines - we are trying to provide a truly dignified experience."
The center operates primarily on volunteer labor and donated supplies, Hogan said.
"The outpouring of support has been incredible," she said. "It is incumbent on us to continually expand what we offer and find more ways to help people."
The only program that has economic eligibility requirements is the food pantry, Hogan said. The pantry will be expanding its hours over the next couple weeks to include evening hours of operation in order to allow for great accessibility.
Up to 60 volunteers man the center, all of whom hoping to make a small improvement in the lives of their neighbors.
"I love working here - we fill a real need in the community," NCOC Board of Directors Member of Co-director of the clothing center Sue Allison said. "This is the ultimate in recycling."