United Way of Southern Tier sets sights on $4.8 million goal

Jeff Cole

At $4.8 million, the United Way of the Southern Tier's community campaign goal is higher than ever.

According to Steve Hughes, vice president of resource development, last year's campaign raised roughly $4.66 million, which set a new record for the organization.

This year, the UWST looks to surpass that amount and Hughes said he is optimistic about its chances.

“The community that we live in is pretty remarkable,” he said. “Whether it's a natural disaster, an unexpected plant closure, such as the Sikorsky Military Completions Center in Chemung County, the resiliency of the donor community in our area is pretty remarkable. So even though we have experienced those types of setbacks, particularly Sikorsky, which is a devastating blow for more than 600 families for sure, but also has a material impact on the United Way campaign, the rest of the community has a resiliency to step forward and do some pretty remarkable things.”

Kristin Butler, manager of marketing communications, added, “The community has consistently shown its generosity through its support of the United Way and this year has been no different.”

The United Way of the Southern Tier is a locally managed non-profit organization and the largest non-government funder of health and human services in Steuben and Chemung counties, according to its website, www.uwst.org. The money its annual campaign raises supports programs and services across Chemung and Steuben counties, such as those involving children, senior citizens and families.

As of Monday, the 2012 campaign had raised nearly $2.9 million, which is about 60 percent of the goal.

“At this time of year, as far as projections go, that's a very good place for us to be, historically,” Hughes said.

Local fundraising, which includes workplace campaigns and individual donations, began Aug. 24 and will last until Dec. 31, according to Hughes. He said the organization encourages “anyone who has an interest and a passion for helping people live a better life” to contribute.

The public can give by donating online, sending a check in the mail to 300 Nasser Civic Center Plaza, Suite 220, Corning, N.Y. 14830, or by participating in a workplace campaign, which allows employees to make payroll-deduction contributions to the UWST.

Also, Ferrario Ford in Elmira will host a fundraising event for the UWST this Thursday. For every person who test-drives a 2013 Ford Fusion, the dealership will donate an undisclosed amount to the organization.

Owner Don Ferrario said while people at the event can also audition for a chance to be a guest judge on American Idol, the primary focus of the day is trying to raise $5,000 for the UWST.

“The main thing we're doing is supporting the United Way and that's what it's all about,” he said.

Major UWST supporters from the Hornell area, Hughes said, include Alstom Transportation, the Gunlocke Company and Wegmans. But while the organization's campaign relies on donations from businesses, it is also depending on aid from local citizens to hit a new fundraising record.

“There's still a lot of upside opportunity for the community to support the effort and we will be working very hard through November and beyond to meet that goal,” said Hughes.