Seneca Co. United Way kicks off 2013 campaign

When ITT Goulds Pumps President Bob Pagano and his wife, Sue, were asked to head this year’s United Way of Seneca County campaign, Bob said he had no idea how critical the organization is to the future of Seneca County. “As a native of Seneca County, I must say I was shocked to learn the extent of the very serious needs that exist in our community,” Pagano said. “I recognize the importance of what the United Way does to address those needs. Our United Way has developed effective strategies based on the priorities of health, education and income, and brings organizations together to solve critical local challenges and maximize results.”United Way is beginning its 2013 campaign this month. The goal, $365,000, is a 3% increase over last year’s campaign, but the need for help is increasing faster than that. A free food giveaway in Seneca Falls attracted a line of over 175 people that went around the parking lot and down the street at the House of Concern. Adding to the urgency, government help is decreasing as the need in increasing. FEMA funds for emergency food have been eliminated for Seneca County for the past two years, and the proposed Farm Bill cuts SNAP food stamp program funds nationwide. In addition, requests for food through backpack programs have increased significantly over last year.To address these challenges United Way’s approach is built on partnerships – people and organizations working together, “what we call Living United,” said Karen Beals, United Way’s executive director. “Living United, we supply food pantry shelves when government funds no longer exist. We support the expansion of school backpack programs, and we assist families who cannot afford their children’s lunches, critical services now needed by more than half the students in our community,” Beals said.To improve income for the county’s 33,300 residents, United Way’s and the county’s VITA volunteers prepared 430 income tax returns last year to return more than $700,000 to those who need it most. Most of that money was spent locally on food, housing, clothing and other vital needs. To support education, United Way brings together organizations and builds coalitions with libraries and retired teachers to help families encourage reading from an early age. United Way supports Literacy Volunteers who teach many of our community’s newest residents how to read and write in English so they can receive high school diplomas, become citizens, build successful businesses and become contributing members of our community. United Way helps improve access to quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities. And United Way partners work together to successfully keep students in high school through graduation so they are better equipped for adult life, working toward a goal of raising the high school graduation rate to 89% by 2018.United Way also supports community recreation programs to promote better health and wellness, and has obtained grants to help reduce underage drinking.“United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. It truly is a “United Way” to make our community a better place,” Pagano said. “ITTGoulds Pumps is excited to be a part of it and support it. Sue and I invite our neighbors in Seneca County to help make our community better. You can give, you can advocate and you can volunteer to Live United.”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. In the workplace, many people choose to donate by automatic payroll deductions through their local employers.For the past 54 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 22 partner agencies and programs are dedicated to improving education, health and income in Seneca County. For more information, contact United Way at 315 539 1135 or email [email protected].

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