First State Community Action Agency, a statewide nonprofit helping Delawareans become self-sufficient, celebrated their 53rd year of service with a dinner and recognition ceremony on Nov. 19.

Almost 300 individuals, including nonprofit, business and government leaders, joined the celebration held at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. The event featured musical performances by Shades of Blue Jazz ensemble and recognized community leaders and partners supporting First State’s anti-poverty mission. Comcast was presented the 2018 Community Partner and Syronda Barksdale, New Castle resident and client of First State, with the 2018 Personal Achievement award.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long presented the agency’s prestigious Stanford L. Bratton award to Dr. Anne M. Farley, former director of Delaware Health and Social Services, corporate lobbyist and not-for-profit consultant, for her leadership and service.

Providing words of inspiration and reflection was event speaker Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. Blunt Rochester, a longtime advocate of community action programs, shared her journey to becoming the first female and first African-American U.S. Congresswoman and encouraged listeners to be courageous in breaking the barriers of poverty, gender stereotypes and racism in society.

Executive Director Bernice Edwards shared her sentiments in a purpose address, encouraging audience members to support the anti-poverty nonprofit as it is positioned to fight poverty and win.

“For over 53 years, First State Community Action Agency has adapted its services to meet the changing needs of Delaware’s low-income residents and communities in despair,” said Edwards. “We are positioned to fight poverty head on and we remain committed to helping residents overcome the barriers to being successful.”

Since its inception in 1965, First State has worked to address unemployment, housing, and hunger, among many other issues affecting thousands of low-income Delawareans. With a focus on poverty remediation, First State assists more than 12,000 families of low-income each year, providing access to services designed to improve quality of life and help low-wage workers, children and seniors become self-sufficient.

“We’ve accomplished so much with the support of our partners, but it’s frankly not enough,” said Edwards. “There’s still so much more to be done. There are thousands of people who still need our help and resources.”

“In a time of political and social divisiveness, it is imperative that state agencies, leaders and partners unite to more effectively meet the challenges of those devastated by poverty. That’s the only way we’ll get things done and make a difference in the state,” she said.

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