United Way
United Way of the Valley
 and Greater Utica Area

School Readiness Can be a Reality for Every Child and Family

United Way and Community Partners Launch Ready for Kindergarten (R4K) Education Initiative

United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area announced its partnership with Central Valley School District, Dolgeville Central School District, Remsen Central School District, in creating the Ready for Kindergarten (R4K) Education Initiative. The ceremony, held on Tuesday, November 15 at Harry M. Fisher Elementary School in Mohawk commemorated this milestone and officially launched R4K.

"Addressing the many barriers to kindergarten success is critical for our many children who live in poverty without access to services or resources. This is something that is difficult, if not impossible, for schools to accomplish alone," said Christine Reynolds, Dolgeville School District Superintendent. "That's why partnering with United Way is so exciting for us. Working together we hope to make a difference in the lives of our children and families so that all children will have the opportunity to be ready for Kindergarten and ready to learn."

The combined mission of the R4K Education Initiative connects families, schools, and community resources to prepare children to reach their full potential. By focusing on the root cause of our region's problems we can make school readiness a reality for every child and family, and have the greatest chance of making measurable improvements in our communities.

After the launch ceremony, over 130 pre-school students enjoyed a special program in celebration of this momentous effort. Sheriff Chris Farber of Herkimer County Sheriff's Office and Major Francis Coots of New York State Police read to the children - with a special visit from McGruff the Crime Dog. Children participated in creative movement with Mother Goose, a sing-along with Beth Meeusen, United Way Family School Coordinator, and William Crankshaw, Remsen School District Superintendent, and made crafts provided by Dolgeville School District. Plus, each child received a goody bag with special treats!

"Our mission is ambitious. Uniting families, schools, and community resources to prepare children to reach their full potential by focusing on school readiness," said Brenda Episcopo, United Way Executive Director. "We are grateful to be launching this pilot project by partnering with Central Valley, Dolgeville and Remsen School Districts, as well as Literacy Coalition of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Oneida County Youth Council, Stop ACES, and the new R4K Coalition to ensure children and families in our communities have the tools they need to thrive!"

Your contribution helps more children in the Valley and
Greater Utica Area gain the foundation for success...
Have You Made Your Year-End Gift?

The clock is ticking, but there's still time! Did you know that one in four people in the Valley and Greater Utica area requests help from a United Way funded program every year? Whether or not they receive that help, depends on you.

All community members are encouraged to get involved in this year's campaign!  Make your tax deductible donation before December 31, 2016. To donate or volunteer,
please call (315) 733-4691, or click here today!
New Report on the Trends Impacting Working Families

According to a new report released by New York State United Ways, 2.1 million ALICE - an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed - households in NYS have incomes above the poverty level but below the ALICE threshold budget for survival. With an additional 1.1 million households below the poverty line, 44 percent of New York households can no longer afford basic necessities including housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.

This report is about far more than poverty; it reveals profound changes in the structure of New York's communities and jobs. It documents the increase in the basic cost of living, the decrease in the availability of jobs that can support household necessities, and the shortage of housing that workers in the
 majority of the state's jobs can afford.

The United Way of New York State ALICE Report:
  • Details the average minimum costs for households in New York to simply survive - the ALICE threshold - for each county in NYS;
  • Examines how much income is needed to enable New York households to afford the Household Survival Budget;
  • Presents the Economic Viability Dashboard - a measure of the conditions New York ALICE households actually face;
  • Focuses on how households survive without sufficient income and assets to meet the ALICE threshold.

The ALICE report shows how many households in the state are struggling, and they provide the new language needed to discuss this segment of our community and the economic challenges that so many residents face. ALICE households are working households; they hold jobs, pay taxes, and provide services that are vital to the New York economy, in a variety of positions such as retail salespeople, office clerks, food preparers, customer service representatives, and home health aides.

When ALICE households cannot make ends meet, they are forced to make difficult choices such as forgoing health care, accredited child care, healthy food, or car insurance. These "savings" threaten their health, safety, and future - and they reduce productivity and raise insurance premiums and taxes for everyone. The costs are high for both ALICE families and the wider community. 

Link to the NYS Alice report:  http://unitedwayalice.org/NewYork/

Help us provide assistance to the "ALICE" households
in the Valley and Greater Utica Area...

Volunteer & Event Highlights

Young Leaders United
Your Flannel

On November 10, Young Leaders United members and friends put on their best (and worst) flannels and pre-gamed at Lukins Brick Oven Pizza. This year's event featured raffles for Utica Comets tickets, UC Hockey Teddy Bear Toss tickets, a Drone, and Saranac swag baskets. Attendees also took part in trivia and stein hosting contest! 

Channel Your Flannel is a great example of the networking events Young Leaders United organizes throughout the year, providing members a place to meet new and old friends, all while giving back to the community through United Way!

To get involved in this great group of young leaders creating lasting change in peoples' lives and the community, call (315) 733-4691, ext. 232, or fill out our contact form by clicking here.

Veterans Garden Project at CNY Veteran's Outreach Center

On December 1, Neil and Tony Zalocha and their crew from Stone Age Landscaping LLC completed the first phase of our garden project at CNY Veteran's Outreach Center.

The crew cleared brush, removed sod, graded and removed all debris from the site. Thank you Stone Age Landscaping LLC for all your hard work! Thanks also to The Hartford for sponsoring this great project!

"Spread the Warmth"
Winter Coat,
Hat and Glove Distribution

United Way partnered with "Herb" Philipson's and MVP Health Care to "Spread the Warmth" in our communities by distributing nearly
400 brand-new winter coats and
nearly 100 brand-new hats and gloves to area children in need. 

"Many parents in the communities we serve worry about keeping their children warm during the cold winter months. MVP Health Care wants to help alleviate that concern by providing winter coats to children who need them most," said MVP Vice President of Community Engagement Ellen Sax. 

The donated items were distributed to representatives from local schools and organizations on December 13, 2016.  Schools and organizations receiving items include: Herkimer Elementary, Oriskany Central School, Poland Central School, Waterville Central School, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School, The Neighborhood Center, Salvation Army of Herkimer, and Salvation Army of Utica. 

"It is amazing to have community partners come together to support families in our local community," said Executive Director Brenda Episcopo. "United Way is honored to be the conduit of this and many other great efforts to better our community as a whole throughout the year."
Upcoming Events - Save the Date!

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!

Go the Extra Yard! Tailgate Party - Sunday, January 22, 2017

National 2-1-1 Day - Saturday, February 11, 2017

LIVE UNITED Hockey Night - Friday, February 17, 2017

Utica's St. Patrick's Day Parade - March 2017

Tax Season is Almost Here! 

Did you know United Way offers alternatives to paid tax services?

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

VITA helps taxpayers who can not afford to pay a tax preparer and would otherwise not recover money owed back to them by claiming Earned Income Tax Credit or Childcare Tax Credit.

T axpayers make an appointment and meet with a volunteer tax preparer at a VITA tax preparation site. Volunteers at these locations are trained and use IRS provided software to complete the tax forms. All tax returns undergo a quality review before the VITA site submits them to the IRS.

VITA is supported by a coalition of partners called the Mohawk Valley Asset Building Coalition; Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL) coordinates the program. I nterested in learning more? Call (315) 272-1888, or email EITC@rcil.com to see if you are eligible.


MyFreeTaxes.com is an easy, safe and free online filing tool for people who make $62,000 or less in combined Adjusted Gross Income. Taxpayers can prepare and file both federal and state taxes at no cost, and claim valuable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

MyFreeTaxes.com gives taxpayers the freedom to file taxes from their home or anywhere with an internet connection. Curious about MyFreeTaxes? Watch our quick video...

United Way Staff

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

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