September 21, 2013

United Way kickoff breakfast attracts big crowd

JOE LoTEMPLIO Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — For those thinking about what to give that special person for Christmas this year, DaleAnne Wolter has the perfect idea. 

“A donation (to the United Way) in memory of someone is a great gift,” she said at Friday morning’s United Way of the Adirondack Region Campaign 2014 Kickoff Breakfast.

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Wolter and Ellen Gordon are co-chairs of this year’s campaign, which has a goal of raising $725,000.

The money is used to support dozens of agencies in the region that provide help through a variety of programs.

“Everyone here has the same goal in mind — to help the community,” United Way Board of Directors President Gerald Morrow said.

Morrow, Chesterfield town supervisor, said government does what it can to help people, but it can’t reach everyone.

“There are people that government can’t help, and they fall through the cracks, and this is where the United Way comes in.

“The middle class used to be the middle class, but now they are the working poor.”


The breakfast was attended by a record crowd of 216 at American Legion Post 20 on Quarry Road. The big turnout was a good sign, United Way Executive Director John Bernardi said.

“It is testament to the fact that we remain relevant and an important part of the community,” he said.

Wolter, who along with Amy House heads the Champlain Valley Chapter of Compassionate Friends, said United Way funding is vital for that organization to fulfill its mission.

Compassionate Friends is a self-help group of volunteers for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings whose (children) have died.

“Our job is to serve. That’s what our life plan is, and we are all volunteers, and we give from the heart,” Wolter said.

“We can tell from the people we’ve helped that they have moved on in their grief journey.”


Gordon said United Way agencies help so many people in the community.

“You and your families almost can’t help but be touched by them, and the United Way funding is what helps keep many of these agencies together,” she said.

Wolter added that payroll deduction is a great way for people to give, but if that option is not available, people can stop by the United Way office on Tom Miller Road and make a donation.

“It’s a great way to help,” she said.

The Pacesetter Campaign results, from local businesses that started their pledge drives early, show that more than $137,000, or 18.9 percent, of the goal has been raised so far.

Bernardi said that, despite the country and region’s struggle to make its way out of a recession, people still seem willing to give.

“If they believe they will have a positive impact on something or someone, they will give regardless of the economic situation,” he said.

“We provide a great opportunity for people to do that.”


Bernardi noted that the United Way is still feeling the loss of donations from employees at the former Wyeth Pharmaceutical plant in Rouses Point, which employed about 1,250 people at its peak.

Wyeth announced in 2005 that it would be closing within three years. The business has since been acquired by Pfizer, but only about 230 people work there now.

Bernardi said Pfizer still participates in the fund drive, but with fewer employees, the contribution is not as much as it was.

“We’ve been trying to make that up in smaller batches,” he said.

The campaign runs through the end of January 2014.

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