By BRENDAN MCDONOUGH
Mar 30, 2022 Updated Mar 30, 2022
GENESEO – While the name of the United Way may have changed its mission remains the same.
“The United Way funds multiple non-profit agencies to help with economic mobility, health care and education. In the past we have been just a county United Way, this past year six counties joined forces to create the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes,” said Maureen Wheeler, chair of the county employees’ United Way campaign and deputy director of Livingston County Economic Development.
Wheeler kicked off this year’s employee campaign at the March 23 Board of Supervisors meeting. There is no set goal of how much they want to raise, which continues a recent trend. Wheeler said last year between $30,000 and $40,000 was raised among county employees and United Way hopes to raise the same, or even more with this campaign.
“Our county runs a campaign for their employees annually and the money that is fundraised here stays in Livingston County. We are the largest employee campaign here in the county,” said Wheeler.
Other county-based businesses also conduct workplace campaigns with funds going to the United Way for use in Livingston County. Those efforts are have been celebrated with the local United Way’s largest annual fundraiser, the Gala in the Valley, which is slated to return in September.
A total of 18 different agencies in Livingston County will benefit from the money raised by the United Way.
One of the agencies is The Geneseo Parish Outreach Center, which is inside the Geneseo United Methodist Church. Volunteer Linda Weaver explained how the center and its patrons benefit from United Way funds.
“We have been able to do dental expenses for 19 different people and that cost us approximately $11,000,” said Weaver.
Thanks to the campaign the Parish Outreach Center was also able to help 17 people with more than $5,000 in prescription costs.
“We pay for prescriptions, which include diabetic medications, inhalers and are very expensive,” Weaver said, “and even with insurance the co-pays are tremendous.”
There are many ways to help out United Way. It can be done with a one-time donation or setting up a specific amount to be taken out of one’s paycheck through a payroll deduction. Wheeler said during the year the United Way will also conduct raffles and chicken barbecues to add to the fundraising total.
Wheeler said now more than ever every dollar counts to help those in need.
“Especially since COVID, a lot of these agencies are struggling,” Wheeler said. “They are having a lot of the same issues that a lot of our companies are having, like finding employees but also just being able to offer those services. So every dollar helps to make the money go a little further.”
United Way organizations in six counties announced their merger in July 2021, which created the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. This new United Way serves the counties of Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, and Wyoming.
On Jan. 21, the new organization kicked off its 2022 fundraising campaign. The campaign theme is “Make Way for Good.”
In 2022, the United Way raised $32.1 million across its service area, including $20.6 million from campaigns in each of the six counties. Additional fundraising came in the form of grants, community initiatives such as the Roc the Day fundraising effort, and other community giving.
Community members are encouraged to donate during their workplace campaigns or online at unitedwayrocflx.org/give. Organizations can host a United Way campaign by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many ways to give to the community with United Way, including year-round volunteer opportunities. Learn more at unitedwayrocflx.org/volunteerunited.
For more information about the United Way and how you can help, call (585) 242-6400 or e-mail email@example.com.