WALTON, NY - Holiday surprises are on the way to regional nonprofits and the people they serve, thanks to a year-end distribution of funds from United Way of Delaware-Otsego Counties (UWay-DO). Sixteen nonprofit organizations received checks ranging from $1,000 to $12,000 to cover expenses, programs, and equipment needed as a result of record flooding from Hurricane Irene/Tropical Storm Lee in October 2011. UWay-DO formally presented these donations at the Delaware County Board of Supervisors meeting held on December 12 in Delhi.
"You might not think of United Way as an organization that plays a role in disaster assistance," notes Terry Capuano, Executive Director for UWay-DO. "The United Way of Delaware-Otsego Counties, a small Chapter by comparison, assisted in both short- and long-term recovery efforts resulting from Hurricane Irene/Tropical Storm Irene. We played a large role in information and referral, as well as raising $112,500 from donors wishing to assist in recovery efforts. Contributions came to United Way from local residents, Otsego County residents, corporations, second homeowners, and individuals that once lived in our beautiful counties. The donations continued to come in as recently as eight weeks ago. Of those gifts, 51% were designated for use specifically in Delaware County and our Chapter has honored that request. No administrative fees were taken from those donations and 100% was invested directly into our Counties."
Donations were utilized in the following ways:
- Direct services to individuals $75,000
- Clean-up supplies and equipment $3,500
- Reimbursement to churches that provided immediate assistance to residents (food, shelter, clothing) $4,000
- Food pantries $14,000
- Recovery assistance for damaged buildings $6,000
- Fire Department future preparedness needs $16,000
Capuano presented checks to many grantees in person at the Supervisors' meeting. Among the recipients were eight fire departments and Catholic Charities. The Town of Middletown received around $12,000 in total from the United Way to purchase pet kennels which the town will keep in every emergency site so residents will be more willing to evacuate. Programs restoring and donating to food pantries received UWay-DO disbursements.
The United Way was able to remove all administrative fees of the donations so 100 percent of the money went directly to the nonprofit in need. One recipient, the Watershed Agricultural Council, will redistribute the UWay-DO funds to regional farmers who were impacted by Hurricane Irene. "A year ago after the two consecutive floods in the region, a group of farmers wanted to raise funds on behalf of those farmers who experienced losses," explains Craig Cashman, Executive Director for the Watershed Agricultural Council (Council). "They called it "Raise the Roof" and collected over $30,000. Early on, the group asked us to be the administrative entity. After raising the funds, the group developed the application, set a scoring criteria, and selected a dozen regional farmers impacted by flooding. The Council ultimately awarded grants to those 12 farms-in-need on behalf of Raise the Roof. This year, we're honored to do the same. The United Way of Otsego and Delaware Counties recognized the Raise the Roof effort and shortfalls between what we were able to fund last year and what was requested. We hope to disperse those additional UWay-DO monies -- $6,000 -- to three prior farm applicants who fit the Delaware-Otsego County criteria per United Way's instruction."
"Many folks asked how they could help and if they were to make a donation where should they send their donations," says UWay-DO board member Sue Aikens. "It was easy to say 'United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties' for they would ensure those donations would be given to those in the affected areas and it would not be used elsewhere. The UW has been a strong partner with the County's Human Services Committee and specifically last fall. Now United Way has additional funds that will further assist many of our County residents, close to $50,000 being distributed today."
Since last year's flood incidents, UWay-DO has been assisting the two counties with information and referral services and collaborating with the County Human Needs Committee, working with Town of Middletown with facilitating recovery meetings, and leveraging additional resources above and beyond financial distributions. UWay-DO also provided 25 Computers and monitors to schools and families that had flood losses; acquired Office furniture for the Margaretville Food Pantry; and collected donations in Otsego County for flood relief in Delaware County and then coordinated delivery. "If a donor says to us they want that money used specifically, in let's say Margaretville, we would make sure that Margaretville got that money," continues Capuano.
For more information about the Delaware County Supervisors' Meeting and United Way Presentation, visit www.unitedwaydo.org for the news interview with WBNG-TV.
About United Way of Delaware-Otsego Counties
Poor and working-poor families in Delaware and Otsego counties is strengthened by collaboration between community organizations dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth. The United Way supports collaborative, research-based, early intervention, youth development/mentoring programs that provide youth of poor and working-poor families with resources to improve their present and future quality of life. The United Way supports efforts by agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations in Delaware and Otsego counties to address individual behaviors as early as possible, which have been empirically linked to risk behaviors later in life. In addition, funded efforts will strive to mitigate external risk factors present within the community, schools and families that may arrest growth and development in young people. The United Way will also support efforts to better inform the public about available services that address these areas. For more information, to donate or volunteer, visit www.unitedwaydo.org.
About the Watershed Agricultural Council
The purpose of the Watershed Agricultural Council is to protect both the rural, land-based economy of the watershed region and the drinking water quality of a reservoir system that serves over nine million New Yorkers. Landowners use a variety of best management practices, education, tools and approaches, such as conservation easements, to keep property within a working landscape. The Council holds conservation easements on nearly 22,000 acres of farmland, and works with over 500 farmers and 1,000 forest landowners in the Croton and Catskill/Delaware watersheds. Working with farmers, agri-businesses, forest landowners, forest industry professionals and others, the Council seeks to enhance both business profitability and environmental stewardship. It also oversees a regional buy local initiative under the BuyPureCatskills.com brand that connects regional farm, food and wood product businesses to consumers and outside markets through direct marketing and online campaigns. The Council achieves its work through partnerships and collaborations with other nonprofit organizations, government agencies and community stakeholders, to achieve its purpose. For more information, visit www.nycwatershed.org.