Monday, December 7, 2020

Adirondack communities: Addressing needs, coming up with solutions

The Adirondack Explorer/Adirondack Almanack is partnering with Adirondack Foundation to shine a light on unmet needs in the region as well as highlight promising efforts to address them. This special series was inspired by the Foundation’s 2019 report “Meeting the Needs of Adirondack Communities.”  To learn more, visit

From the report’s introduction:

The needs and barriers across the Adirondack region are real. And the solutions are not always  obvious. The percentage of families who earn too much to qualify for public assistance but not  enough to make ends meet has grown dramatically in recent years. There’s a critical shortage of child  care providers, which can make it difficult for parents to commit to full time employment or advance  their careers. Meanwhile access to public transportation and safe, affordable housing in the region is  limited.

Even as the elderly population grows—by 2030 nearly 30% of the region’s residents will be  over the age of 60—the number of home health care aides is plummeting. Social workers are often  overwhelmed and unable to provide mental health care treatment and support in a timely manner.  Treatment and recovery options for those struggling with opioid addiction and other substance abuse  disorders are not as robust as they need to be. The ripple effects of the opioid epidemic in particular  have led to strains on the foster care system and other social services. Taken together these barriers  can stymie economic development and impede pathways to educational opportunity.  

Over the course of the next couple of decades, addressing these needs will be essential to the overall  health, wellbeing, and vitality of communities in the North Country. Philanthropy alone cannot solve these problems and government funding will continue to  play a crucial role in service delivery and program development. But public funding and private  investment together can amplify the impact and reach of a nonprofit agency, community  organization, or new pilot program.  

Social service agencies, nonprofits, and community organizations, often with limited resources and  staff, are developing solutions and innovative programs designed to meet the needs of area residents.  

This report has two purposes: (1) to identify the key unmet needs in the region and areas where the social safety net is falling short and (2) to highlight existing efforts, new initiatives, and pilot programs  seeking to improve access to services and quality of life in the region.

Based on more than 70 interviews with social service providers, community leaders, nonprofits, and residents, the Adirondack Foundation’s report identified the following broad areas as critical needs and opportunities for  long-term growth:  

  • Support Working Families 
  • Expand Affordable Housing and Rental Options 
  • Increase Opportunities for Professional Skills Development  and Workforce Training
  • Improve Transportation Networks 
  • Provide Options for Drug Addiction Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention 
  • Develop Support Networks for an Aging Population 
  • Create Pathways to Post Secondary Education

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving into those seven topics.


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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

11 Responses

  1. Pete says:

    Support for an aging population is very important. Long-time residents want to stay in their homes. In most cases kids and grandkids have moved away to find work so the old ways of family support is not available. Family members can not simply move back because there are no jobs. Seasonal residents become permanent residents when they retire and want to stay. There is huge need for home health care aides, transportation to and from medical appointments, and everything else. Help is needed to do simple things like shovelling walks and other ‘handyman’ chores that aging residents can no longer do. Finding any kind of help is nearly impossible. It puts a strain on remaining family members or forces people to give up their homes and move away from family and friends and the communities they have known all their lives. This problem has to be addressed.

  2. Phil Fitzpatrick says:

    Good journalism. Good citizenship. ??

  3. Herb says:

    Another absence in the park is emergency pet care.

  4. gabe susice says:

    we need good paying jobs in the adks. how do we get them? we need businesses to
    come to the region. will they? probably not, reason high taxed, to many regulations.
    nys is not business friendly. with good jobs more young people would stay. which would help all the other problems. adks communities are dying.i think most liberals
    want this to happen imho.

    • Balian the Cat says:

      Gabe, it’s the holidays – give a rest, will ya? Do you really, in your heart of hearts, think that there are people who want communities to die? Has it ever occurred to you that there are infinite shades of people between “liberals” and whatever it is that you consider yourself? Is it possible that a lot of folks exist somewhere between Lake Placid millionaire and Chicken coop hillbilly? The whole “my politician is better than your politician” thing has us at the point of diminishing returns. If you want young people to stay and or find this area, there are things you yourself could be doing too beyond simply bellyachin that it ain’t right. You, me, all of us.

      • Boreas says:


        Well said.

        • gabe susice says:

          have you ever went and took your kids
          and drove over 20 miles to shovel out elderly people? well i have for years, have you ever taken food to elderly people? not your next door neighbor but people 10 or 12 miles away well i have. have you gone and fixed or taken stuff to be fixed for older or poor people? i have.
          have you ever gone and “stayed” with a elderly man while his wife was in hospital and have to tell him his wife died? well i have. have you ever
          “helped”same man get through his last years of his life? well i have.
          these things i talk about here. arent to blow my own horn, you and the above poster brought it up.

      • gabe susice says:

        what i do for my community you have no idea,its not “bellyachin” to say how
        we can get out oft these problems. you have no idea who i vote for. and your
        “chicken coop hillbilly” is offensive. what laws and regulations are politicians
        pass has at least partially put us where we are today with the problems the author is bringing yes i think there are people who want the population
        of the adks. to be diminished. its common sense that if you want towns and people to do well you need good paying jobs.when the state restricts access
        to good jobs. the communities wither on the vine.

        • Balian the Cat says:


          Despite the fact that I think you missed my point, I will be the change I want to see in the world and apologize for having offended you. To paraphrase your own words – nobody here really knows anything about anyone else, so labels and name calling are really pretty useless. Good for you for being a loyal friend and caregiver. I hope you and yours have a safe and healthy holiday season.

          • gabe susice says:

            thank you, but it was not friends i helped out it was people in need. i didnt “miss the point” you need good jobs to make these problems diminish. its not “rocket science” to get the jobs here.
            if we dont get the jobs here. eventually there will be no one here.

  5. Susan Mattison says:

    Folks, it’s the Adirondack Mountains. If you want services, conveniences, easy transportation, medical centers in every village, no snow hassle free living, nearby child care facilities, etc., move to Plattsburg, Watertown, Potsdam, Malone, Massena, Canton, etc. If mountain living is too hard for you, get out!

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