East End Community Spotlight: CAST, Community Action Southold Town

James Lane Post presents the “East End Community Spotlight” series, highlighting non-profit organizations doing work on the East End. To submit a non-profit organization to be featured in this series, email info@jameslanepost.com.

CAST has served low-income individuals and families on the North Fork since 1965. The foundation helps struggling community members meet their essential nutrition, employment, energy, clothing, and education needs.

We learned more about the organization from the team at CAST.

Can you tell us about your organization?

CAST was founded in 1965 as Community Action Southold Town in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty to serve low-income individuals and families on the North Fork of Long Island. CAST is the only organization on the North Fork that serves as a “one-stop shop” that can address and resolve various issues and concerns and meet the critical needs of low-income and underserved community members.

CAST’s mission is to provide a safety net and promote self-sufficiency for residents in need on the North Fork of Long Island and Shelter Island, helping to battle food, shelter, employment, education, and health insecurity with dignity and compassion. We serve a diverse and vulnerable population, which includes children, older adults, people living with disabilities, single mothers, and impoverished/low-wage workers — the backbone of the agriculture, hospitality, and tourism sectors that drive our local economy.

Our goal is to help these individuals and families meet their basic needs, increase their economic security, and improve overall family well-being. Over the decades, CAST has grown and adjusted to best serve the needs of the North Fork, but our objective of “neighbors helping neighbors” remains the same. In 2021, CAST moved to a permanent home which serves as a North Fork community resource center. We also began doing business as the Center for Advocacy, Support & Transformation (CAST). We focus on three priorities: Food Security & Nutrition, Client Support Services & Advocacy, and Education & Outreach.

Photo courtesy CAST

Could you talk about the importance of this work on the East End?

Despite the growing affluence of the East End due to heightened tourism and a competitive housing market, much of the region remains a rural area with pockets of extreme poverty. Here, the working poor suffer from considerable isolation, experiencing transportation challenges and limited availability of affordable housing. The community relies on many low-wage workers with limited education and skills. There are no job training programs for young people who are not college-bound and no adult workforce development programs offered in the area.

Photo courtesy CAST

Transportation barriers prevent many young children from accessing the very limited public school Pre-K or Head Start programs, while language and financial barriers prevent our clients from improving family well-being. CAST is the only nonprofit in the area meeting basic needs and providing wrap-around services/programs, including education and workforce training programs that provide opportunities and increased economic security. The COVID pandemic, followed by 40-year-high inflation and an affordable housing crisis, has only exacerbated the situation. CAST currently serves approximately 12 percent of the population and 25 percent of the children living in Southold Town. If not for the services of CAST, many of these individuals and families would not be able to live and work in our community.

Photo courtesy CAST

How can the East End community get involved?

A community thrives when every member’s needs are met, allowing them to build a better future. CAST depends on the generosity of donors and volunteers to maintain our commitment to serve vulnerable populations on the North Fork and Shelter Island.

When you make a donation to CAST, you are supporting your neighbors in need who are vital members of our community. In addition to the children, seniors, and people living with disabilities, many of our clients work in the vineyards and boatyards, on the farms, in the restaurants and hotels, the retirement communities and local stores, and help maintain our homes. They give so much to the community, and when their futures are bright, ours are too!

CAST helps hundreds of people every week who are food insecure, in need of clothes, who live in substandard housing, face emergency situations, and struggle to make ends meet. A donation to CAST provides food, clothing, heat/electricity, school supplies, and access to programs that support school success, adult education, and job readiness skills. With your support, we provide critical assistance and help move families toward self-sufficiency.

Photo courtesy CAST

We are also always looking for dedicated members of the East End community to support our efforts in helping those in need across the North Fork and Shelter Island. There are many rewarding and flexible volunteer opportunities at CAST, including the food pantry, donation drives, educational programs, administrative, and event support.

More info on ways to donate:  castnorthfork.org/donate

More info on volunteering:  castnorthfork.org/volunteer

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