Let’s take a look back: It was January 8, 1964, that President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke his immortal words, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” However, it was not until March 16, 1964, that he announced his plan for taking on this challenge, the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA). Greene Lamp was chartered September 16, 1965 covering the geographic area of Lenoir and Greene Counties to develop, maintain, administer and/or support programs and endeavors designed to better the social, economic and cultural conditions of Lenoir and Greene Counties. The goal of Greene Lamp is to help an individual move from a state of dependency to being an independent wage earner, able to compete and cope in our society; to make a good living for him/herself and dependents; and to be a contributing member of his/her community.

Greene Lamp is a 501(c)3 non-profit agency that was derived from two separate agencies operating in Greene and Lenoir Counties. Greene County’s efforts were focused upon bringing affordable health care to an area that was largely without those services: a rural, poverty-depressed area. Thus giving us the Greene in Greene Lamp. Lenoir County gave much thought to its part in naming the agency. They wanted to help people, to give them something to go by, some help to “see” ahead. Thus the acronym LAMP: Lenoir Action Mobilized for Progress. Greene Lamp’s first program for preschool children offered a Head Start program in 1966 which served 440 children.

Administratively, Greene Lamp was first funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity and later by its successor, the Community Services Administration.

Organizationally, the agency is governed by a Tripartite Board of Directors composed of one third public officials, a minimum of one third democratically selected representatives of low-income individuals and the remaining board members must be chosen from “business, industry, labor, religious, law enforcement, education or other major groups or interests in the community served. Their agent is an Executive Director serving at the pleasure of the Board. Terms of office for the board are four years, two terms maximum.

The strength of Greene Lamp is its very strong Board of Directors’ and staff’s commitment to carry out the agency’s mission to provide services, encouragement and advocacy for low-income persons. The Board and staff have solicited support and developed proposals, which have led to contracts for the provision of healthier services specifically to the low-income and under served population. Through these efforts good contacts and rapport with state and federal agencies has emerged. Local government agencies recognize the historic strength of the agency and choose to coordinate with the agency and agency programs