PLATTSBURGH - The United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties Inc. has begun a new year of fundraising and with a new name.
The nonprofit organization - which helps more than 35 partner agencies - has now expanded to encompass Franklin County and has adopted the name United Way of the Adirondack Region. The expansion occurred in June, and was a process several months long following the former United Way of Franklin County losing its affiliation with the national United Way last October.
John C. Bernardi, executive director of the United Way of the Adirondack Region, said there have been a number of challenges in reestablishing a United Way presence in Franklin County, but not any that have been insurmountable.
"We see the three counties as a regional community. We don't necessarily break each out separately," said Bernardi. "We see that we're all neighbors and that we all have common needs and aspirations. United Way is a mechanism that helps connect people so that we can make sure that the needs of the community are being met."
The inclusion of Franklin County into the local United Way's focus has meant expanding not only its focus, but also its fundraising efforts, said Bernardi. This year's fundraising campaign team will look to raise $750,000 - a $50,000 increase over last year's campaign. The additional amount, however, is not solely because of the organization's increased coverage area, Bernardi noted.
"It's what we feel is a reasonable and attainable goal for our region," said Bernardi, who noted the local United Way hadn't increased its $700,000 fundraising goal since 2007. "We knew we'd eventually need to raise our goal. We know that's the amount we need to meet the needs of the community."
Kirk A. Stallsmith, chairman of this year's fundraising campaign, said increasing the amount raised will be only a part of the team's mission.