Seneca County United Way Campaign at 65%

It’s simple, really. United Way of Seneca County’s goals fall into three categories: health, education and income. And while the agency has specific goals in each category, overriding all three is the problem of food. Without adequate food, children cannot focus in school, health problems and costs increase and income goes down because people can’t work effectively.That’s why United Way supports several agencies that help provide food to the hungry and nutritionally needy in our county. “We have supported the Cayuga-Seneca Community Action Program and the House of Concern for many years,” said United Way Executive Director Karen Beals. “But this year we added community food cupboards in Tyre, Interlaken, and Ovid. We are helping agencies that are feeding 11,000 people a year. All the food pantries are in dire straits,” Beals said. But those efforts could be in jeopardy. As the campaign winds down, pledges are at only 65 percent of the $350,000 goal. ““We are asking people to dig a little deeper and give a little more, if it’s within their means,” said Dr. Frank Nicchi, this year’s co-chair. “And if those who haven’t made a pledge yet would contribute even $5 or $10, it would make a big difference.” Right now, United Way is putting a lot of energy into the income action area. There’s an army of volunteers and community partners who are helping people file for the Earned Income Tax Credit. United Way is working with partner agencies on more available, safe and affordable housing. And in the education and health areas, United Way is connecting parents and seniors who have never needed help before with basic things like childcare and prescription assistance. Carol Nicchi, who co-chairs the campaign with her husband, suggests “if those who haven’t made a pledge yet would contribute even $5 or $10, it could make a big difference. We’re inviting them to join us and help make things better for all of us.”Some of the people who are helping to make things better, the Seneca County Children’s Committee, worked with United Way to provide seed money to start backpack programs to feed hungry children in South Seneca, Waterloo and Seneca Falls school districts. In Waterloo, Trevor’s Gift backpack program currently is feeding 120 children each week.Thanks to contributions from people in Seneca County, United Way was able to provide funding to local food pantries that faced a financial crisis earlier this year. Beals explained that the federal government withdrew FEMA Emergency Shelter and Food Program funding that previously had provided $15,000 to $20,000 a year to Seneca County food pantries. But FEMA’s national budget was cut and disasters were requiring the federal government to spend more to help families who were impacted by flood, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters. Based on the 2000 census, Seneca County didn’t qualify for the funds from the diminished pot.At the same time, Seneca County industry was leaving and businesses were downsizing, so the food pantries were seeing an increase in requests for food.“We wanted to try to help,” Beals said. “We knew we couldn’t replace all the money, but thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were able to provide emergency funding.”“United Way really does an amazing job in Seneca County,” said Rose Rathbone, Seneca Program Director for Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency. “Not only did it provide emergency funds when the food pantries were in need, but it also advocated to get us some federal money and then added to the federal funds that all the food pantries received. United Way also conducts and advocates for food drives throughout the year to make sure food is distributed to food pantries throughout the county. And they give us money to help families with rent and utilities.”All contributions to United Way are tax deductible. Donations can be made by credit card online at www.uwseneca.org or checks and money orders can be sent to PO Box 623, Suite 215, Main Street Shoppe Center, Waterloo, NY 13165. Many employees choose to donate by automatic payroll deductions through their local employers. For the past 53 years, United Way of Seneca County, a non-profit organization, has been helping make Seneca County a better place to live and work by inspiring citizens to Live United. Its 21 partner agencies are dedicated to improving education, health and income in Seneca County. For more information, contact United Way at 315 539 1135 or email uwseneca@rochester.rr.com.

Also on FingerLakes1.com