ITHACA, N.Y. — With just one month to go, the United Way of Tompkins County is asking the community to help raise the $300,000 needed to reach their 2017-18 campaign goal.
At a press conference Wednesday, members of the campaign and local organizations talked about the impact of the United Way’s funding in the community. In total, the goal is to raise $1.9 million by the end of March.
“Our work is focused every day on making our community an even better place to live, work and enjoy,” James Brown, president and CEO of the United Way of Tompkins County said.
The need in the community for United Way services has never been greater, Heather McDaniel, co-chair of the 2017-18 campaign and vice president and director of economic development services of Tompkins County Area Development, said.
“It’s a sobering statistic when you look at people living in our community that desperately need assistance or food because they have nowhere else to turn for help,” McDaniel said. “This is a time when financial resources have been shrinking dramatically and the needs really are going up.”
The remaining $300,000 goal, if funneled into just one cause, could have a big impact on the community, the United Way said. It could mean 1.7 million pounds of food purchased for local food banks, 7,243 people having access to a supportive counselor, 339 low-income or disabled homeowners can receive necessary home repairs, 532 immigrant families can access support and 24,691 children from low-income families can receive literacy support, the United Way said.
McDaniel said the requests coming in for funding show the need in the community. Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga has requested a 37.5 percent increase in funding to support its immigrant and emergency service programs, McDaniels said. The Child Development Council has also requested a 36 percent funding increase to support their growing family services.
The United Way campaign officially kicked off in September with the 2017 Stephen E. Garner Day of Caring. Hundreds of boxes of non-perishable food items, personal care items and pet and school supplies were donated. Around that time, the United Way of Tompkins County had filled nearly two tractor trailers with supplies for Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
Sue Dale-Hall, chief executive officer of Child Development Council, said the council has been providing services to the community for 50 years and the United Way has been a partner with them throughout that time to make sure children have what they need to live happy and healthy lives.
“We know that if we invest in kids now that there’s not only a benefit today, but there’s a benefit in the long run too and that children and families and communities will all win,” Dale-Hall said.
Dale-Hall said the United Way support helps by leveraging New York State prevention funds, which she said helps them prevent childhood neglect and abuse by building strong families early through family support services.
“We would not have access to that funding at all in our community if we didn’t have the United Way support for family services,” Dale-Hall said.
Jessica Gosa, director of Foodnet Meals on Wheels, and Kate Shanks-Booth, director of the Women’s Opportunity Center, also talked about the ways UWTC impacts their programs.
Last year, Foodnet Meals on Wheels provided more than 168,000 meals in Tompkins County. They offer nutrition services, home meal delivery and social dining. Gosa said their services are designed to help with some of the most challenging parts of aging, including hunger, loss of independence and isolation.
Gosa said United Way funds help them sustain and grow critical nutrition services in the community.
United Way funding also allows the Women’s Opportunity Center help every person that comes through the door, Shanks-Booth said. And the number of people seeking services has been increasing. The center helps low-income women get out of poverty by offering career counseling and training.
John Rudd, president and CEO of Cayuga Medical Center and co-chair of the 2017-18 community campaign, thanked the community for its generous support so far, and asked people who are able to help them meet their $300,000 goal in the next 31 days.
“I ask that everyone reach a little deeper in their pockets to help us reach that goal so that we can meet the needs of our community,” Rudd said. “Together we can make a difference and we can be a stronger community.”
Anyone who wants to make a donation to the campaign can either visit www.uwtc.org, authorize payroll deduction through their employer or send a contribution of cash, check or stock to United Way of Tompkins County, 313 N. Aurora Street, Ithaca NY 14850.
Featured image: John Rudd, president and CEO of Cayuga Medical Center and co-chair of the 2017-18 community campaign, speaks at a press conference Wednesday held in the Women’s Opportunity Center. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice