United Way sets $325,000 funding goal for local agencies

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Charlie Nesbitt, the honorary chairman for the United Way fund drive, announces a $325,000 goal with Marsha Rivers, executive director for the United Way. Penny Nice, president of Orleans County Adult Learning Services, is pictured at right. OCALS receives funding through United Way.

MEDINA – At a downtown center in Holley, Community Action runs an after-school program that wouldn’t happen without support from the United Way.

Community Action also uses United Way dollars to help run the Main Street Store in Albion, which provides job training and skills to many local residents.

The United Way funding is steady each year, bringing stability to an agency that also relies on grants and other government funding that often varies each year, said Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

“The grants are hit or miss,” Fancher said. “If we don’t have them we flex the size of the program to meet the resources we have.”

Community Action is one of about 20 agencies that receive funding through the United Way of Orleans County. The United Way kicked off its annual fund-raising campaign this evening and set a goal of $325,000.

The Boy Scouts (Iroquois Trail Council) is one of the funded agencies through United Way. Jim McMullen, the Scout executive, said the United Way dollars help keep down the costs of the Scouting program.

“Unlike other sources, it’s consistent,” he said about the United Way dollars. “We can rely on it every year. It provides programs for families in need. Without it, everything would be higher.”

File photo by Tom Rivers – Boy Scouts and their families are on a fishing expedition at a former quarry on Keitel Road, now owned by the Albion Sportsmen’s Association.

The Iroquois Trail Council serves Scouts in five counties. McMullen said each of those counties contribute funding through the United Way.

He would welcome more money so the Council could expand Scouting programs and push to attract more youths into the program.

“With even another $1,000 you’d have more opportunities to recruit kids in the community,” McMullen said.

Several agency leaders attended the kickoff celebration at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina. Marsha Rivers started as United Way executive director last month. She said the campaign “is all about building stronger communities.”

Before joining the United Way, she worked for Hospice of Orleans, which provides palliative care for people with advanced illness. Prior to that she worked with younger families through the Care Net Center of Greater Orleans, which offers ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and other resources for families.

She thanked a dedicated United Way board of directors for giving its time to support the United Way mission, and the many residents and businesses for contributing money to the campaign. Those funds will help the agencies provides services to residents.

“Everybody here is a giver, whether you’re giving money or time,” said Charlie Nesbitt, the honorary campaign chairman and former state assemblyman. “It’s about individuals and their needs. That’s why we will make a meaningful commitment to those that need us.”

Jodi Gaines, president and CEO of Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion, serves on the United Way board. She has been pushing the United Way campaign for more than 20 years.

“It’s about helping the community,” Gaines said. “I know these agencies are top notch and well run.”

Some of the funded United Way agencies include 4-H and Cornell Cooperative Extension, Camp Rainbow through the Arc of Orleans, Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts, Community Action’s Main Street store and after-school program, Community Kitchen at Christ Episcopal Church in Albion, GCASA and Students United for Positive Action, Girl Scouts and Hospice of Orleans.

Other funded agencies include Just Friends, Medina Youth Commission, Ministry of Concern, Habitat for Humanity, Orleans County Adult Learning Service, PathStone Domestic Violence Shelter, Regional Action Phone, Senior Citizens of WNY, and the Orleans County YMCA.

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Editor’s note: Tom Rivers is married to Marsha Rivers, the United Way executive director.