The Community Action Organization of Erie County will officially open its 40th Head Start center, at St. Agatha Catholic Church, on Thursday.
Young actors, actresses, musicians and a poet will highlight the grand-opening ceremonies from 11 a.m. to noon at the church, 65 Abbott Road, said CAO spokeswoman Catherine M. Roberts.
Roberts, CAO communications and marketing director, said the 42-year-old Head Start program is widely acknowledged as the most successful and longest-running national school readiness program in the country for low-income children and their families.
The CAO currently provides daily Head Start services for 2,100 Erie County children up to age 5, including the 86 children involved in the St. Agatha program, which actually began early last month, she said.
In addition to Buffalo, the CAO has Head Start classrooms and administrative offices in Derby, Blasdell, Gowanda, Holland, Springville, Lackawanna, Akron, Tonawanda, Bowmansville, Amherst, Cheektowaga and Depew, Roberts said.
During Thursday's ceremonies, the Sankofa Theatre Company and Sankofa Drummers will perform alongside spoken-word artist Lonnie Harrell. Michael Kearns, South District Common Council member, will present a City of Buffalo proclamation marking the newest of the CAO's Head Start units providing comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services for low-income children, she said.
She noted that since its formation in the mid-1960s, the non-profit CAO of Erie County has grown to where it now annually promotes self-sufficiency through advocacy, partnerships and services for more than 21,00 individuals and 9,000 families.
Roberts said the overall goal of the CAO "is to reach out to low-income people in their communities, address their multiple needs and administer a full range of coordinated programs designed to have a measureable impact on [reducing] poverty."
The public is invited to Thursday's ceremonies.