East Hill Notes: Cornell community has strong ties to United Way

By Gary Stewart
Cornell University works hard to be an engaged community partner in countless ways, ranging from student, staff and faculty volunteerism, to contributions on a number of fronts, some of which are reflected in this one-pager: http://universityrelations.cornell.edu/files/2016/03/Local_economic_imapact_2015_snapshot-2btp9nn.pdf
Part of this mix will always include a partnership with United Way of Tompkins County. This has been the case since 1921, when the roots of today’s United Way were formed via the Ithaca Community Chest. Robert H. Treman was the organization’s first Board president, and served in that role for several years.
In 1956, the Community Chest became the Tompkins County Community Fund, which then evolved into the United Way of Tompkins County in 1973.
At Cornell, which officially kicks off its United Way campaign in mid-September, Director of Athletics Andy Noel and Police Chief Kathy Zoner will be the 2016-17 campaign co-chairs.
Noel has already met with United Way of Tompkins County leadership and has begun to plan the next Cornell campaign.
“It is rare to be provided an opportunity to immerse oneself in a mission as critical to Tompkins County as raising support for the United Way,” Noel said. “I am particularly energized to address the considerable need within our local community and believe that caring for others less fortunate is a fundamental aspect of humanity. How can we rest until families, especially children, have their basic needs met?”
Aided by the generosity of Cornell University students, staff and faculty, the United Way of Tompkins County exceeded its 2015-16 goal of $2,012,638, raising a total of $2,019,456. Cornell United Way contributions totaled $729,226, which included the Cornell student campaign, which raised $31,867.
“We fell a few thousand dollars short of our overall campus goal, but it was a good showing, given the introduction of an electronic giving component, and some other challenges that were part of Cornell life this past academic year,” said Susan Riley, deputy director of Community Relations and Cornell United Way campaign coordination director. “Cornell generosity once again represented about 40 percent of the countywide campaign, which annually assists dozens of local nonprofits and thousands of our friends and neighbors, including Cornell students, staff and faculty.”
Looking ahead, Noel added, “I join many within the Cornell community in a sense of responsibility to demonstrate our care for others through gifts in direct support of the United Way agencies.”
Cornell staff and faculty are proud of our internationally recognized student campaign, which raises an impressive amount of money every year. The students’ various service projects and major fund-raisers, such as an annual a cappella concert and the popular “Duff Ball,” reflect a unique brand of town-gown leadership and commitment.
In 2011, Cornell Student United Way won the first ever United Way Worldwide Student United Way Campus Organization of the Year award. In recent years, the students have also received national recognition for creating and maintaining the Stephen E. Garner Summers of Service Internship/Job program.
Primarily funded through Cornell University Student United Way since its inception in 2008, the Garner initiative provides paid summer internships for local high school students at several United Way of Tompkins County member organizations.
“Live United” is a wonderful concept in these trying times. To meet that end, Cornell is a committed partner with United Way of Tompkins County, which works for and with thousands of our friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers on a daily basis.
East Hill Notes is published twice a month in Tompkins Weekly. Gary Stewart works in the Office of Community Relations at Cornell University.