United Way adds employee for fundraising and event planning

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 22 June 2021 at 8:24 am

Nyla Gaylord previously led Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Former Ministry of Concern director Nyla Gaylord meets with Dean Bellack, director of United Way of Orleans County, after the announcement she has been hired as a fundraiser and event planner for United Way. 

After a very successful year in fundraising, United Way of Orleans County has announced the hiring of Nyla Gaylord as fundraiser and event planner.

Gaylord had formerly been with the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern for 5 ½  years, more than 4 of those years as director.

While she was in that position, she worked on a grant on her own time to secure $450,000 to hire a grant writer, who would be available free of charge to any non-profit in Orleans County, and eventually Genesee County. In addition, the grant, which was received in April, also pays the salary for Gaylord’s new position with United Way.

“I worked on the grant on my own time because I felt very strongly a grant writer was what the county needed,” Gaylord said. “It had become increasingly clear to me how stretched thin the administrators of organizations are, plus their staff doesn’t have a grant writer or anyone with the skills to write a grant.”

Gaylord praised United Way’s director Dean Bellack, whose vision resulted in searching for funds outside of the county and a never-before collaboration between county agencies and the big foundations.

“What Dean and United Way have done (and the pandemic contributed to it, as well) is start to collaborate with other agencies and look strategically at areas they serve,” Gaylord said. “Also, these big foundations realized they were underserving rural counties. The Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo came to us. As a result of the Western New York Covid-19 Response Fund, we were able to hire Mary Beth Debus, who worked on the Orleans Initiative Digital Divide study.”

Bellack said the knowledge Gaylord has is invaluable.

In her past jobs, Gaylord said she has worked for low pay at human service agencies. She has learned a lot about not-for-profits’ community needs and what is available to help people. She has knowledge of entitlement programs, SSI, immigration and the disability system.

“Diversity is our strength – people coming together to look at community needs,” she said.

Gaylord felt she had done all she could at Ministry of Concern and wanted to look at a bigger picture in the community.

“I’m not interested in public office, and I realize under Dean’s leadership United Way is evolving in a new direction which is much needed,” she said. “It’s role will be to support not-for-profit agencies, not just raise money. It will be ‘boots on the ground.’ Everybody is stretched too thin and trying to do a lot with a little. It’s now time for United Way to evolve as an agency of support. United Way in Orleans County is broadening its scope in terms of how we bring resources to not-for-profits and the entire community.”

With the $450,000 grant for a grant-writer, the soon-to-be-announced $349,000 for Orleans County’s Digital Divide Initiative and half a dozen other grants, United Way last year was responsible for bringing more than a million dollars into the county, much of it to help those affected by the pandemic.

In spite of these gifts, Bellack stressed how important local donations and workplace campaigns are to United Way’s mission.

“These local donations are absolutely necessary,” he said.

Gaylord started her new position with United Way on June 14. She will expand fundraising opportunities throughout the community, while the new grant writer will go after foundation money and other funding opportunities which didn’t exist before.

“We will be approaching fundraising on two different levels,” Bellack said.

Gaylord has already acquired Las Vegas entertainer Jimmy Mazz for a gala United Way event at Maison Albion in the fall. She is also visiting town clerks throughout the county, in an attempt to create more relationships. She is promoting the sale of tickets to United Way’s chicken barbecue July 10, which will be a drive-thru event from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. Tickets are $12 and will be for sale Friday nights at Medina’s cruise-in at the Canal Basin or by logging on to United Way’s web site. A limited number will be sold the day of the event.

As a lifelong resident of Orleans County, Gaylord said she just wants to see things better.

“I see tremendous potential for Orleans County,” she said.

She can be contacted at development@orleansunitedway.org or at (585) 703-0564.

Bellack said United Way will now have four employees with four different skill sets. In addition to Gaylord and the new grant writer, there is administrative assistant Dawn Winkler, who Bellack says knows everything about financials, web site design and promotions. She is an organizer, he said.