United Way Celebrates ‘Lives Rebuilt,’ Honors Volunteers One Year After Sandy

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United Way of Westchester and Putnam bestows Spirit Awards at 51st Annual Meeting

Greg Bassuk, Esq. and Naomi Adler, Esq., of United Way of Westchester and Putnam present Stephen K. Hunter with The Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Volunteer Award.

We are so honored to work with such amazing partners. When you look at how much was accomplished in a year that included such a life-changing disaster, you realize how impactful our mission work is to the entire community.

United Way of Westchester and Putnam honored volunteers and organizations from across the community at its 51st Annual Meeting on October 29th which coincided with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. They celebrated "Lives Rebuilt" by recognizing year-round supporters, discussing progress made on key community issues, and honoring those who supported our neighbors during and after Hurricane Sandy.

“We are so honored to work with such amazing partners. When you look at how much was accomplished in a year that included such a life-changing disaster, you realize how impactful our mission work is to the entire community”, said Naomi Adler, CEO and President of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “Hundreds of volunteers, partner nonprofits, government workers, and businesses stepped forward to help with us this year and we owe them a big ‘thank you’.”

In addition to its year-round work, United Way convened agencies and rallied volunteers to best serve thousands of scared and frustrated residents before, during and after Hurricane Sandy. United Way’s 2-1-1 answered over 25,000 calls ranging from people stranded in their homes without food to people who needed to know what roads were open in order to get to work. There were also 1,300,000 disaster related web searches at United Way’s information portal http://www.hudson211.org.

Despite the storm, the United Way work in education, income and health still continued. Over 17,000 children and adults learned to live healthier through exercise, gardening programs, and nutritional education. Over 800 adults who have been chronically unemployed found a path out of poverty through job training. Tutoring and school support grew so 800 at-risk children stayed engaged in their education among other successes.

Every four years United Way assesses the community to make sure unaddressed issues do not weaken our local community. This year, more than 2,600 surveys were collected with data on education, financial stability and health.

Over the next four years United Way will be focusing groups of community leaders to address the new and arising issues identified in the Community Conversations. One group which will be officially launched at the annual meeting will be the United Way Women’s Leadership Council. This group of women will focus their power and influence on helping the 1/3 of single moms who live in poverty in Westchester. The inaugural Women’s Leadership Council event is slated for December 5th at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor.

The United Way awarded the prestigious Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Awards to:

The Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Corporate Award was awarded to Target Corporation. Each of the three Target stores in Westchester support United Way annually. In addition to making donations, Target employees love to volunteer - whether running a special fundraiser (like a bowl-a-thon, etc.) or mentoring children. In fact, Target employees will soon be trained to help during the next disaster through United Way’s 2-1-1 call center. In addition, Target donates unsold decorated Christmas trees to the community through United Way’s gifts-in-kind program.

The Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Community Award was awarded to the United Way Northern Westchester Community Board. This amazing group of volunteers worked with the community to raise over $450,000 in individual donations. Representatives of this community board then spent countless hours with the Board of Directors and staff to disseminate the Community Conversation Surveys and make sure the funds were best invested in the community. After Hurricane Sandy, these volunteers spent many hours on the 2-1-1 phones, connecting people to services and being a caring voice in the darkness after the storm.

The Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Labor Award was awarded to CSEA Unit 9200/Local 860- Department of Emergency Services. These emergency service workers did not get much sleep in the days before and after October 29, 2012. Not only did they work on the front lines putting their lives in danger, they also made sure to keep lines of communication with United Way open so when people in crisis called 2-1-1, they received information that was updated hourly.

The Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Volunteer Award was awarded to Stephen Hunter, a United Way volunteer for the last 20 years, serving on both the local and regional boards in roles such as Leadership Giving Chair, Campaign Chair, Finance Committee and local volunteer President. He has stepped in to help wherever he is needed including working with others to put together fundraising events, reviewing and funding impact work, advocating for 2-1-1 and many special projects studying the scope of United Way work and impact.

The Spirit of Westchester and Putnam Partnership Award was awarded to The Westchester County Long Term Recovery Coalition (WCLRC) and the Putnam County Long Term Recovery Coalition (PCLTRC). The tremendous work of these two committees was still in its infancy when Hurricane Sandy moved off the front pages of the media. Working with the most complicated cases, in each county they each joined forces with other organizations to make sure people whose lives were disrupted due to the disaster, could get back on track.

Members of the PCLTRC Steering Committee include: PutnamCAP, Putnam County Department of Social Services, American Red Cross, and Catholic Charities Community Services. The Executive Committee of WCLRC includes: Village of Mamaroneck, Catholic Charities, United Way’s 2-1-1, The Volunteer Center of United Way, The Bridge Fund, Red Cross, Hispanic Resource Center, and WestCOP

The annual meeting was held at 800 Westchester Avenue, Rye Brook, NY, 5th Floor Auditorium and started at 8:15am with light refreshments at 8:15am. The program began at 8:30am and conclude at 9:30am. Find out more at http://www.uwwp.org or by calling 914-997-6700.

About United Way of Westchester and Putnam
United Way of Westchester and Putnam operates with the fundamental belief that all people deserve a quality education, enough income to support a family, and opportunities for a healthy lifestyle. The not-for-profit organization works with agency partners, government, businesses and community leaders to solve problems that are too complex for any one entity alone. All contributions go toward improving the education, income, and health of the children, youth and families throughout Putnam and Westchester. United Way’s 2-1-1, which covers Putnam as well as Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties, answers thousands of online inquiries and calls per day ranging from tax, heating, and mortgage questions to childcare, basic needs, natural disaster and crisis calls. United Way of Westchester and Putnam is located at 336 Central Park Ave., White Plains, NY 10606. They can be reached at 914-997-6700 or by visiting http://www.uwwp.org. Follow United Way on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/UnitedWayWP) and Twitter (@UnitedWayWP) for the latest news and updates.

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Mindy Hermann
Co-Communications, Inc.
+1 (914) 666-0066
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Shannon Cobb
United Way of Westchester and Putnam
914-997-6700 x720
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