About Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, Inc.

The Chautauqua County Rural Ministry (CCRM) is a grassroots advocacy agency with a distinguished history of meeting the needs of the homeless, working poor and disenfranchised in Chautauqua County, NY.  Organized in the 1950′s by a group of enlightened individuals concerned with the welfare of the very poor and migrant workers in our area, the group worked to establish better housing and labor standards for families and their children.

Originally called the Southwestern Area Migrant Committee of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties in 1967, the name was changed to the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry in 1973 to reflect a more central focus.

Our agency and its programs are primarily community response driven.  Seventy-five percent of Rural Ministry’s annual budget is met through in-kind support from local businesses, churches, civic organizations, individuals, schools, state and local foundations and agriculture.  Continuous support through donations, money, and volunteerism from concerned and caring citizens has helped Rural Ministry programs expand to meet the changing needs of our most vulnerable, the disenfranchised, the elderly and children.

CCRM serves the population of the entire County of Chautauqua.  According to the Poverty Report of 2008, conducted by the New York State Community Action Association, the population of Chautauqua County was 135,357, with 16% of the total population living below poverty level.  23.1% of the children of Chautauqua County live below poverty level.  At the time of this study, the unemployment rate was 5.6%.  In the last six months, the unemployment rate has grown as high as 8%, and threatens to continue to rise.

Rural Ministry evolved over the years and expanded its focus to include all those who are in need of the basic necessities of life. Its programs have also expanded to include: the Emergency Food Pantry, the Coburn Block Emergency Housing Units, the Emergency Clothing Voucher Program, the Garment Gallery, the Friendly Kitchen, the Coburn Block Apartments, the Furniture Distribution Program, and the Chautauqua County Gleaning Project.

The Rural Ministry was responsible for creating the first successful rape and domestic violence hotline in Chautauqua County and influenced many local human service agencies to develop a better awareness of the dynamics of violence in the home.

Similarly, the Rural Ministry surveyed Chautauqua County in the mid-1980s to assess the issue of homelessness as it appears in rural areas. The resulting report on rural homelessness was the only one of its kind in the country at that time and was utilized by members of Congress in 1988 when drafting and passing the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Housing Act.

Our agency is successful because people in the community care about others and generously support our mission to give a hand up to those in need.

Visit theCCRM.org for more information.