Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Schiller Park Community Services was the setting Monday as Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid and chair of the 2011 Campaign for the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, announced the organization's $13.5 million goal for the 2011 Campaign to a group of participants in Schiller Park's United Way-funded senior citizens program.
"I support United Way because I believe it is the best way to make a
difference in this community," said Elsenbeck, who also served as chair of the 2010 Campaign. "I know that we were successful in last year's Campaign because 53,000 other people felt the same way. I know we will achieve this goal this year if everyone who cares, steps up to help."
Michael Tritto, executive director of Schiller Park, noted the
importance of United Way support to the agency and the people it serves.
"The funding we received this year is a catalyst for our Senior Citizen
Activities program to create new activities for our active senior
population focused on promoting greater fitness and wellness," he said. "The United Way's priorities of using best practices and measuring the impact of its funded programs, are helping our organization take proactive steps to expand our senior program to better meet the needs of seniors today and tomorrow."
The $13.5 million goal represents a $200,000 increase over the
organization's 2010 Campaign - the first Campaign increase in nearly a decade. Bob Zak, CEO of Merchants Insurance and United Way Board chair, connected last year's increase to additional funding for services. "In April, we had a watershed moment: our 2010 Campaign raised just over $13.3 million. Because of that success, we were able to invest even more in community programs like Schiller Park - $4.3 million in total investments, an increase of $150,000 over last year."
Michael Weiner, United Way president, expressed optimism that this
year's Campaign will build on the momentum created in 2010, and
underscored the true significance of the Campaign. "The annual United Way Campaign is a substantial fundraising effort, but it is far more than that. It is an opportunity for each of us to "rewrite someone's story" and help create change in the life of someone in need."
In 2010, more than 207,000 people across Erie County received services funded by United Way through volunteer-determined investments in 81 programs at 51 local agencies that focus on Education, Income, and Health & Wellness. Schiller Park's Senior Citizen Center Activities Program, funded under the Health & Wellness area, provides low-to-moderate income seniors in the East Side of Buffalo and adjacent neighborhoods in Cheektowaga with fitness classes, a nutritious lunch, educational classes, monthly social events, bus trips to recreational and cultural destinations, and van transportation to the senior center and medical appointments.
Program investments represent only a portion of the organization's total investment in improving quality of life in Erie County. In all, United Way invested nearly $12.8 million back into the Erie County community last year. This includes $4,327,000 in direct program investments, including programs such as the WNY 2-1-1 Call Center and American Red Cross Disaster Services; $2,411,000 in grant funding secured on behalf of partner agencies in the community; $2,565,000 in United Way programs and initiatives such as Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH) and activities like Day of Caring; and $3,462,000 in contributions designated by donors to specific agencies through the 2010 Campaign.