Barnes & Nobel Collects Almost 3,500 Books for United Way

United Way of Westchester and Putnam (UWWP) received 3,371 books from the 2020 Holiday Book Drive held by Barnes & Nobel stores in Eastchester, White Plains, and Yonkers. The new children’s books were purchased by customers and donated to United Way.

“We are grateful to be the recipient of Barnes & Nobel’s 2020 Holiday Drive, which was supported by the generosity of our neighbors who shopped the local stores,” said Tom Gabriel, president and CEO of UWWP. “Education and student support are one of the pillars of United Way’s mission. We know that books, actual books, are an important tool for child development. They spur a child’s creativity and imagination, introduce new vocabulary, teach critical thinking, and so much more. These books will help children from low- to moderate-income households that are 61% less likely to have books readily available to them.”

The donated books were divided by age-group. UWWP distributed the books for children ages 6-10 as holiday presents to children in need in Westchester and Putnam counties. The books for the younger children will be used as part of United Way’s United2Read program, promoting early literacy.

Through its United2Read program, UWWP collected and distributed over 15,000 books across our region to more than 5,000 underprivileged children, from birth to age five, in 2020. These books kits encourage childhood literacy and interaction between caregiver and child—both of which are crucial to a child’s growth and success.

United Way of Westchester and Putnam supports Education, financial stability, and health initiatives to help residents become self-sufficient and thrive. These include the 2-1-1 helpline, essential goods distribution, early literacy programming for preschoolers, job skills training and financial empowerment for adults, and access to health services for all.

United Way Awards Capacity Building Grant to the Association of Development Officers

White Plains, NY (January 2021) – United Way of Westchester and Putnam (United Way) awarded the Association of Development Officers (ADO) a $1,500 grant to support its capacity-building efforts for the local nonprofit community. The funds will be used to underwrite ADO’s spring workshop series, which provides nonprofit professionals in the lower Hudson Valley with valuable opportunities to learn about fundraising, marketing, and communication practices and trends with their peers.

“We are so grateful to the United Way for their support of ADO’s spring workshop series,” said Julie Sootin, executive director at ADO. “United Way is a valued partner to the nonprofit community, providing direct funding to help so many local nonprofits build capacity, and supporting the whole sector through its education grant to ADO.”

ADO was formed in 1980 to provide peer support and educational workshops to resource development professionals in the nonprofit sector. It hosts about 10 professional development workshops annually.

“United Way is pleased to strengthen the work of ADO, which aids so many nonprofits in Westchester County by providing teachings and tools to further the professional growth of their resource development and communications teams,” said Tom Gabriel, president and CEO of United Way. “Helping nonprofits with capacity building is an important component of United Way’s efforts because we believe that together we can improve the lives of those in need more than any one organization by itself.”    

United Way of Westchester and Putnam supports education, financial stability, and health initiatives to help residents become self-sufficient and thrive. These include the 2-1-1 helpline, essential goods distribution, early literacy programming for preschoolers, job skills training, and financial empowerment for adults, as well as access to health services for all.

Hammer Selected as Chairman of United Way of Westchester and Putnam’s Board of Directors

The United Way of Westchester and Putnam’s Board of Directors has named Katonah resident Bud Hammer as its new chairperson. Hammer succeeds June Blanc, who was at the helm from 2018-2020. Hammer joined the United Way board in 2017 and co-chaired the resource development committee and annual golf event since 2018.

“I am honored to be selected as the new Chairperson on the Board of Directors for United Way of Westchester and Putnam,” said Hammer, President of Atlantic Westchester. “I look forward to leading the board of such a relevant and resilient organization in order to provide a helping hand  to hundreds of thousands of our neighbors who are struggling to survive and giving them hope for a better tomorrow through its education, financial stability, and health initiatives.”

Hammer is the president and general manager of Atlantic Westchester, Inc., an award-winningcommercial and industrial HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) business located in Bedford Hills, NY. Atlantic Westchester offers a variety of HVAC solutions for businesses, institutions and government facilities across the NY metro area and assists clients with proactive maintenance, remediation and installation services based on their unique facility needs. The company holds HVAC licenses in Westchester, Connecticut, Putnam and Rockland Counties.

When COVID-19 caused New York State to pause, Hammer had his team ready to give back. The Atlantic Westchester staff, including Hammer, helped United Way with its Emergency Food Distribution in Putnam County and its Heroes and Homebound Hot Meals Delivery Program.

“Bud is stepping in as Board Chair at a transformational time for our organization, as the United Way has played an instrumental role in responding to the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19.  His leadership and support will be essential to the organization’s continued impact in the community and I look forward to working closely with him,” said Tom Gabriel, President and CEO of the United Way. 

Over the years, Hammer and his team have received several awards and recognitions, including Westfair Communications’ “Family-Owned Business Award;” Westfair Communications’ “Milli Award;” Town of Bedford Conservation Board’s “Green Award; and “Outstanding Achievement in Transportation Award” from Westchester Green Business Challenge. Bud has been featured in several local and national publications, including The Associated Press; Inc. Online; TheStreet; New York Real Estate Journal; Westchester County Business Journal; 914INC. Magazine; and BUILDINGS Magazine. Hammer graduated from Pace University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing. He is a strong believer in giving back to the community and volunteers at organizations, including The United Way, Visions, and March of Dimes. Bud is an avid golfer and New York Rangers fan. He resides in Katonah with his wife and business partner, Lisa.

Barnes & Noble Holds Book Drive for United 2 Read

Barnes & Noble has selected United Way of Westchester and Putnam (UWWP) to be the recipient of their 2020 Holiday Book Drive, which runs through Dec. 12. Barnes & Noble stores in Eastchester, White Plains, and Yonkers are participating. At check-out, customers are encouraged to purchase an additional book for children ages 0-10, which is then donated to the book drive.

“We could not do this annual book drive without the generosity of everyone in the community,” said Barnes & Noble Store Manager Jonathan Castro. “I want to thank everyone that has donated to United Way of Westchester and Putnam through this program.  We still have a few days left to make a change in a young readers life, so please come in and contribute if you can.” 

All the books donated will go towards United Way’s United2Read early literacy program or will be distributed as holiday presents to children in need in Westchester and Putnam. Through its United2Read program, UWWP has collected and distributed nearly 15,000 books across our region to more than 5,000 underprivileged children, from birth to age five, so far in 2020. These books kits encourage childhood literacy and interaction between caregiver and child—both of which are crucial to a child’s growth and success.

If you are interested in purchasing a book to donate to United Way of Westchester and Putnam, you can visit any of the below stores:


Vernon Hills Shopping Center
680 White Plains Rd,
Scarsdale, NY 10583

230 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10601

Central Plaza 2614,
Central Park Ave,
Yonkers, NY 10710

100,000 Calls Received by the 211 Call Specialists

The 211 Helpline Call Center run by the United Way of Westchester and Putnam in White Plains has answered more than 100,000 calls so far in 2020, which is more than the then record-setting 80,000 calls it received in 2019. Over 25,000 calls have been COVID-19-related calls.

“I am so proud of how the call specialists have been able to handle the increased call volume while also providing each caller with the attention they need. Our call specialists have been able a source of information as well as a source of comfort for calls through this crisis,” said Lini Jacob, Senior Vice President of 211 Hudson Valley. “We have seen a jump in calls related to food and housing insecurity and financial needs in every community. 

Every day 211 operates 24/7 and regularly works remotely. Our call center will continue to do so, answering questions, providing information, and even calming a caller’s understandable anxiety about the unknown.
United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline handles calls from residents from Long Island to the Adirondacks. United Way’s 2-1-1 is a free, confidential, multilingual information (over 200 languages) and referral helpline open 365 days a year. Nationally certified call specialists are trained to answer questions and provide referrals. In 2018, 2-1-1 added text messaging to its services. 

As COVID-19 continues to unfold, 2-1-1 will be here for residents of the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and upstate New York, answering questions about food assistance, housing, and shelters, utilities, abuse prevention, suicide, foster parenting, medical help, and more. Please call 2-1-1 or visit online at

14 Organizations Awarded $110,000 Collectively in EFSP Funds

The United Way of Westchester and Putnam announces that an additional $110,000 in grants have been distributed among 14 local, nonprofit organizations responding to unparalleled food and housing needs driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The economic effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis have left many of our neighbors with food and housing insecurities,” said United Way President and CEO Tom Gabriel. “United Way is honored to be able to distribute $110,000 more of funding into the Westchester community. These funds are in addition to the $1 million from the Emergency Food and Shelter funding distributed earlier this year to help our nonprofit partners address the basic human needs of families in our community.’’

The funds were made available through the New York State Board of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Boards to Westchester county. This program provides federal funding, which helps extend currently available services for the hungry or homeless or at risk of eviction. The United Way of Westchester and Putnam is the administrative agent of the Local EFSP Boards in Westchester and Putnam counties.

Lifting Up Westchester is so grateful to granters like the United Way who are providing emergency funding support during this time of crisis. The ESFP grant will provide rent assistance to individuals who are part of our Supportive Housing Program and who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic,” said Anahaita Kotval, CEO of Lifting Up Westchester. “Our clients, who are already so vulnerable, need us now more than ever.”

This is the third round of grants awarded to nonprofits through the United Way of Westchester and Putnam this year. First, in May, 31 nonprofit organizations were collectively awarded $120,000 in funding thanks to the United Way’s John M. Bendheim Community Disaster Response Fund and Bonwit Fund, as well as The PepsiCo Foundation. Then in June, the United Way distributed $1 million in Emergency Food and Shelter funding.

Here is a list of organizations that received funding in the latest round.Caring for the Hungry & Homeless of PeekskillCatholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New YorkFeeding WestchesterFriends of KarenGullotta HouseHOPE Community Services, Inc.Hudson Valley Community Services, Inc.Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial, Inc.Lifting Up WestchesterOssining Micro FundThe Bridge Fund of New York, IncThomas H. Slater Center, Inc.Westchester Community Opportunity Program IncWestchester Residential Opportunities

United Way distributes 700,000 blankets, pillows donated by Delta Air Lines as winter approaches

With winter closing in and necessities in short supply due to COVID-19, United Way of Westchester and Putnam (UWWP) will be giving away 700,000 duvets, blankets and pillows to be distributed to social services agencies, schools, homeless shelters in Westchester, the Bronx and other locations in the metro area.

The shipment of desperately needed supplies are thanks to Delta Air Lines and a coalition of groups including Good360, Penske Logistics, and Diamond Properties, who worked together to make sure the supplies got into the hands of those who needed them most.

Several hundred agencies are expected to receive goods from Monday, October 26th through Friday, November 13th.

“More than 40% of our neighbors are living in poverty, paycheck to paycheck or are food insecure right now. Winter is always a difficult time, but with the pandemic and the depletion of supplies, these blankets and pillows generously donated by Delta Air Lines will keep hundreds of thousands of our neighbors warm in the coming months. We also want to thank Good360, Penske Logistics and Diamond Properties for the assistance,” said Tom Gabriel, president and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “It is partnerships like these that help us to fulfill our mission to lift up people in crisis to self-sufficiency.’’

As a Good360 nonprofit partner, UWWP has access to highly needed, donated goods that Good360 sources from hundreds of socially responsible corporate donors such as Delta Air Lines. UWWP then distributes these products to local, vetted nonprofits. To help facilitate this donation, Penske donated transportation services to deliver the goods to a Mount Kisco warehouse that was provided by Diamond Properties.

Gabriel said that in the past year, United Way has provided $2 million of donations through the Essential Goods for Basic Needs program, which helps to funnel millions in corporate and other donations to the public through its not-for-profit partnerships.

“We are proud to partner with United Way to reach organizations, shelters and communities in need across the country,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President – In-Flight Service. “Our mission is to connect the world and giving back is a big part of that. Now more than ever, we must remember to come together, give what we can and support those who need it most.”

Marc Althen, Penske Logistics president said, “We are very pleased to support the United Way of Westchester and Putnam with their transportation needs regarding this generous donation from Delta Air Lines. Our company has a proud history of supporting the United Way.”

“During this time of tremendous need, strong collaborations with our nonprofit partners and corporate donors allow us to maximize our impact and get essential items to people facing challenging circumstances,” said Matt Connelly, CEO of Good360. “In 2020, Good360 is forecasted to distribute more than $600 million in needed goods, an increase of nearly double over 2019. We are thankful to our partners and we look forward to the continued efforts to help those in need.” 

Mark Blandford, EVP of Diamond Properties, which donated the warehouse space for the two week distribution, said, “We are delighted to be part of the efforts of the United Way of Westchester and Putnam by donating a warehouse for distribution of goods collected by donors everywhere. The United Way has been supporting families in our communities for over 100 years and their work is more important than ever. We are grateful for the opportunity to give our support.”    

The Rev. Denise Pickell of the Trinity United Methodist Church in White Plains said that her church would be making a distribution to some families in need shortly and that the church was very grateful for the donation.

“This is so badly needed, and the timing is perfect because we are doing a large distribution tomorrow,’’ said Pickell. “Thank you to the United Way, Delta Air Lines and everyone involved.’’

Malcom Holder of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, said, “On behalf of WESTCOP, I’d like to extend a thank you for your caring and the children thank you as well.’’

Faith Ann Butcher, Chief Impact Officer for UWWP, said United Way is asking agencies in need of blankets and pillows to contact UWWP. United Way is also looking for volunteers to help load donations as well as greet and check-in agencies who are picking up donations. Agencies and volunteers can contact UWWP at or call 914-997-6700 for more information.

United Way Teams Up with Ossining Schools and Village to Build a Born Learning Trail

Staff from the Ossining School District as well as the Ossining Parks Department assisted the United Way of Westchester and Putnam in building a bilingual Born Learning Trail at the park next to Park Elementary School in Ossining on Thursday, Sept. 17.
The Born Learning Trail turns everyday experiences into teachable moments. This interactive trail contains signs with instructions for simple games that will turn an excursion at the park into fun learning moments for young children. The trail’s theme of Watch! Stop! Learn! Play! encourages parents and caregivers to follow the child’s lead, building the child’s curiosity and confidence, and reinforces learning opportunities present in everyday life.
“I am so thankful for our partnership with the United Way,” said Ray Sanchez, Superintendent of the Ossining School District. “The Learning Trail is going to help enrich the lives of our youth.  I know this trail is going to make a difference to our community.”  

United Way Provides Student Support in Westchester and Putnam

Studies show that school readiness contributes to a student’s success. The United Way of Westchester and Putnam invested and leveraged nearly $150,000 in education initiatives that positioned students to succeed in the remote learning environment. 
Through the first round of COVID-19 Response grants, UWWP funded the purchasing of tablets, Chromebooks, printers, and other electronic devices for organizations such as Latino U College Access (LUCA), the Guidance Center, and the Youth Shelter of Westchester. 
UWWP also provided the traditional school supplies—backpacks filled with school supplies to 2,400 students in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, White Plains, Port Chester, Mount Kisco, Ossining, and Peekskill as well as throughout Putnam County.
In addition, UWWP distributed over 10,000 books through food pantries and other nonprofits to children from low- to moderate-income households. 

United Way’s Partnership with H.O.P.E. Community Service is ‘Vital’ to helping the people of New Rochelle

UNITED, we can change lives.
In the midst of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, H.O.P.E. Community Service in New Rochelle has been distributing food and providing other services to thousands of families. However, a wrench was thrown into its capacity when its commercial air conditioning unit broke during the hot days of summer. As a result, produce was going bad quickly and the team of staff and volunteers were working in sweltering conditions.
The United Way awarded H.O.P.E. Community Service a grant for $8,000 to go toward the air conditioning repair, in addition to other funding that the former distributed to the latter earlier in the year. Collectively, H.O.P.E. Community Service has received $46,500 through the United Way as well as thousands of essential goods to distribute to their clients.
“The partnership we have with United Way has been vital to our ability to meet the increased need in the community,” said Walter Ritz, Executive Director of H.O.P.E. Community Service. “United Way has helped our food efforts by not only providing us the means to purchase more food but by awarding us funds to fix our air conditioning unit, has provided us the capacity to keep the food we do get fresh longer. Through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, HOPE was granted money to help with eviction and foreclosure prevention. In addition, it has supplied essential goods such as socks, school supplies, and books to support our families.”
H.O.P.E. Community Service was also a recipient of UWWP’s COVID-19 Response Grants and of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.