United Way
United Way of the Valley
 and Greater Utica Area

Positive Change Continues at Johnson Park 

Poverty remains prevalent in the city of Utica, with 30% of the population experiencing the challenges. The largest burdens falls upon the households headed by single mothers at 42.2%. With limited assets, all members of the family, especially 47% of the children, are negatively affected physically, emotionally,
and mentally.

Johnson Park Center(JPC) understands the weight placed upon the children  and their families and finds it imperative to assist with their needs. JPC is a community development, non-profit  organization that is located in Utica and serves the Johnson Park - Cornhill area. JPC provides homeless services, youth programs, and a food pantry to the families in the inner-city community.

One of the three vital JPC programs that United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area funds is JCP's Drop-In Youth Center. The Youth Center provides a free, safe, and structured environment that supports education and recreation while providing a safe haven during the hours in which youth are at highest risk of crime and violence.

A single, African American mother of four living in Cornhill began bringing her children to Johnson Park's Youth Center this past year. Her son Tony, age 5, was experiencing difficulties adapting to school. His challenges became so overwhelming that he was suspended from kindergarten several times throughout the school year. Tony was hurting other children and himself, causing a lack of concentration by many. Typically, during this developmental age, being engaged in learning is especially important for Tony and all of his classmates. However, like many other low income children that are not emotionally stable, his anger problems served as a barrier to his educational success. 

When Tony's mother brought her children to JPC's Youth Center, the staff were able to provide an individualized focus on Tony that he may not have ever received before. The staff now help him with his homework and diffuse outbursts before they become out of control. Tony has also learned how to interact with other children in a controlled environment and the children in the family have a hot, nutritious meal each night. In addition, the staff have been able to point Tony's mother in the direction of outside services that offer children's counseling and home support. They have also noticed Tony's mother constant struggle to purchase necessary items for her children (such as food and clothing) and JPC is able to assist the family with their food pantry and donated clothing items.

Johnson Park Center's Youth Center shows how important it is to provide not only educational support for children in need, but to also approach the situation deeper and make sure that the entire family's basic needs are fulfilled. United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area funds 49 programs in Herkimer and Oneida County to ensure that our community's education, health, income, and basic needs are met.

Data Sources: NYS Community Action Assoc., 2016; MVCAA Communitywide Strategic Needs Assessment 2015-2018, 2016
95th Campaign Kicks Off with a Goal of $2.1 Million

The community celebrated at Mohawk Valley Community College's Alumni Center as United Way officially kicked off the 95th annual fundraising campaign.

The Campaign Kick-Off event, sponsored by MVCC at Limelight Event Planning, marked the start of our annual fundraising effort and gave us the opportunity to thank local companies, donors and volunteers for their generosity  and commitment to our community. For photos from the Kick-Off event, click here.

"In the coming year, we will continue to fund programs that meet the needs in our community. We will also step up to address challenges in our community such as poverty, child obesity, and kids not ready for school. We need you, to help us meet our 95th Campaign Goal of $2.1 million," said Brenda Episcopo, United Way Executive Director.

All community members are encouraged to get involved in this year's campaign. To donate or volunteer, please call (315) 733-4691, or click here today!
Meet the 2016 Campaign Cabinet

Thanks to your hard work and dedication, we are able to help 1 in 4 of our neighbors every year!
  • Melissa Arcuri, Planned Parenthood
  • Edward Barone, Brown and Brown
  • Dr. Aymee Belen, Belen Dental
  • Paul Deep, Esq.
  • Father Paul Drobin
  • Keith Eisenhut, Esq.
  • Jeff French, Eastern Star Home
  • Andrew Gehrig, Potentia Management
  • Rose Marie Grimaldi, Oneida County Board of Elections
  • Dawn Gubbins, The Fountainhead Group, Inc.
  • Jennifer Hagen, Adirondack Bank
  • Kandi Humpf, Quadsimia
  • Bruce Karam, Utica School District
  • Jordan Karp, Oneida County Board of Elections
  • Melanie Kekis, Adirondack Bank
  • Nick Laino, Herkimer College
  • Sandy Paddock, Utica School District
  • William Rabbia, Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority
  • Brian Reese, Fitzgerald, DePietro & Wojnas 
  • Jackie Romano, The Fountainhead Group
  • Paul Romano, O'Brien and Gere
  • Enesa Sabanagic, CNY Labor Council
  • Mike Spina, Quadsimia
  • Marsha Thayer
  • Gabrielle Waisblatt, YWCA
  • Sarah Westfall, Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy
New Docu-Series "The Hero Effect" to Premiere on
Oprah Winfrey Network November 12

When everyday people make extraordinary differences in their communities,  that's called The Hero Effect.

We are excited to share the launch of United Way's new series that will air on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network November 12th! Read more.

Community Volunteers Mobilized for Day Of Action
Day of Action volunteers paint a fun hopscotch at Cinderella Park in Utica!

For our fifth annual Day of Action, nearly 100 volunteers rallied to create fitness activity trails in four City of Utica Parks.

Park locations are: Cinderella Park, Parkway Recreation Center, Quinn Park, and Pixley Playground.

United Way partnered with the City of Utica, Fit and Fun Playscapes, and volunteers from Assist-2-Sell Real Estate, Utica National Insurance Group, Masonic Care Community, as The Hartford.

According to United Way's Executive Director Brenda Episcopo, "United Way has always stood for healthy children. Bringing together donors and volunteers to build these trails showcases what United Way does best; bring people together to make an impact. Children will get active on these trails for years to come." 
Utica Mayor Palmieri, United Way staff, and community members cut the ribbon officially celebrating the activity trails created during Day of Action.
T he activity trails, generously funded by proceeds from the 2016 Mayor s G ala, were officially celebrated  with a ribbon cutting and family event at  Quinn Park.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri was in attendance along with Brenda Episcopo, United Way Executive Director, as well as other community partners including members of Utica's Police and Fire Departments.

For photos of Day of Action, click here.
United Way Welcomes Five New Staff Members

We had a great time at our last staff meeting working with Fit Kids Fit Future learning more about their Physical Education Program!
United Way has be en busy  as ever and is delighted to introduc e five new staff members!
Carli, Beth, Heidi, Keri and Jason look forward to making great things happen in the Valley and Great er Utica Area!
  • Carli Sterling, Campaign Coordinator
  • Beth Meeusen, Family School Coordinator for the Remsen School District
  • Heidi Nolette, Marketing and Communications Manager
  • Keri Kane, Volunteer and Events Coordinator
  • Jason Romeyn, Family School Coordinator for Central Valley Academy


Brenda E. Episcopo
CEO/Executive Director

Kristyn Bucciero
Director of Development & Marketing

Sandra Hoyland
Director of Finance

Director of Community Impact

Sandy Allbright
Resource Development Coordinator
Betty-Joan Beaudry
2-1-1 Mid-York Liaison

Lucille Humphreys
Executive Administrative Assistant

Chelsey Lawson
Community Investment Coordinator

Dawn Potter
Finance Assistant

Kevin E. Alexander
Utica/Oneida County Anti-Poverty Initiative Coordinator
Keri Kane
Volunteer & Event Coordinator

Marketing & Communications Manager

Campaign Coordinator

Family School Coordinator, Remsen

Family School Coordinator, CVA
Upcoming Events

It is our goal to connect you, your group, or your family with volunteer opportunities that will best suit your interests. Email our Volunteer and Events Coordinator Keri Kane, or call (315) 733-4691, ext 226 to be connected with upcoming events!

Young Leaders United Channel Your Flannel
November 10, Lukin's on Varick St, Utica, 6:00-8:30pm - Click here for details
Veterans Garden Project at CNY Veteran's Outreach Center - Phase 1
November 14 - Brought to you in part  by The Hartford and Stone Age Landscaping
Spread the Warmth! Winter Clothing Drive
November-December - Details coming soon! -  Sponsored by Herb Philipson's
LIVE UNITED Hockey Night with Utica College (vs. Nazareth College)
February 10  - Details coming soon! 

Go the Extra Yard! Tailgate Party
January 22 - Details coming soon! 

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