United Way closing in on fundraising goal

PLATTSBURGH - The United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties Inc. has almost reached its fundraising goal, but there is still work to be done.

John C. Bernardi, executive director of the local United Way, said the nonprofit organization has raised approximately 75 percent of its $700,000 goal. Bernardi gave members of the media an update during a press conference Jan. 14.

"We're doing pretty well," said Bernardi. "We think it's going to be very close, however, and we really would like to rally the community to help us close the gap and finish the campaign."

Bernardi estimated the campaign needs approximately $30,000 that is "not yet projected or expected" prior to the campaign ending the first week of February. That amount is "comparable" to the amount needed at this point in the annual campaign when compared to recent years, he said.

"We had the same issue last year," said Bernardi, who attributed much of the difficulty for the 2008-09 fundraising campaign to the troubled state of the economy. "Every year it's difficult to cross the finish line, but I think the biggest factor that has created the challenge this year is a reduced workforce."

Companies which have announced lay-offs or closures in the past year have put a dent in the campaign based off the amounts pledged by their employees in previous years, said Bernardi.

"That, certainly, has had an impact," said Bernardi.

Despite the challenges, the funding - which will help the 33 partner agencies of the local United Way - will come through, Bernardi believes.

"Our network of health and human service services is far-reaching throughout the region and it's great to know that it's there when you need it," said Bernardi. "But, in order for us to be able to sustain it, we need people to recognize the importance of it and be willing to support it financially."

"We've done extraordinarily well but we need a little more to make the goal," Bernardi continued. "We want people to know we're working very hard to close this gap."

Those wishing to make contributions toward the local United Way campaign may send donations in care of United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties Inc. to 45 Tom Miller Road, Plattsburgh N.Y. 12901. Donations may also be made through a payroll deduction, which may be arranged through one's employer.

For more information, contact the local United Way office at 563-0028 or visit www.unitedwayce.org.

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