United Way Grants Volunteer New York! Funds for Capacity Building

White Plains, NY (January 2021) – United Way of Westchester and Putnam awarded Volunteer New York! a $2,500 capacity building grant to support its volunteer management trainings for local nonprofits. The semi-annual trainings are created specifically to help increase the capacity of its nonprofit partners and provide resources to ensure that they can effectively and efficiently engage volunteers thus increasing their capacity to meet their core mission. Additionally, the funds will support the Volunteer Managers Networking Breakfast.

“We are so grateful to the United Way for their support of Volunteer New York!’s annual volunteer manager networking breakfast and training,” said Jeanette Gisbert, executive director of Volunteer New York!. “These events provide an opportunity for volunteer managers to learn about new resources from Volunteer New York! and network and learn from fellow volunteer managers. We are lucky to have a partner like the United Way of Westchester and Putnam who understands the impact volunteer power has on our community.”

Volunteer New York! has been serving Westchester, Putnam and Rockland for 70 years. Its mission is to inspire, mobilize, and equip individuals, groups, and organizations to take positive action to address pressing challenges, support nonprofits and strengthen the quality of life in our community.

“United Way is pleased to strengthen the work of Volunteer New York!, which aids so many nonprofits in Westchester and Putnam counties by providing tools and resources to recruit and manager volunteers,” 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 create lasting change.” 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.

Harshita Shet Awarded the William L. Carter Perseverance Award

United Way of Westchester and Putnam is proud to have contributed to the William L. Carter Perseverance Award given to Harshita Shet at the 2021 African American Men of Westchester’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy Awards.

Harshita of Greenburgh is currently an 11th grade honors student at Woodlands Middle and High School. She is the founder of “Feminine Dignity” project, which was initiated through the India Center of Westchester (ICW). She also started the “Teen Girls India Center Forum” (TGICF) at the ICW, with the purpose of teen girl empowerment.

Harshita holds a position as a student member of the Greenburgh Human Rights Advisory Committee, at the Town of Greenburgh. She was also presented with the ‘Rising Star’ Award from the Town of Greenburgh.

Harshita has received the United States Presidential Voluntary Service Award Gold Medal for her Community Service. She is involved in many charitable community services in and around Westchester County, such as Feeding Westchester, Volunteer New York!, Hearts and Homes for Refugees, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Strides Against Breast Cancer, and Locks of Love.

Amongst many of her other accomplishments, Harshita plays volleyball, basketball, track, and a variety of musical instruments. She has won numerous Regional and National Awards for Indian Classical Dance, Bollywood, Arts, Karate, and competed at the Scripps National Spelling Bee four consecutive years. Harshita been nominated for a NY Emmy for the documentary “What Ever Happened to Black Wall Street.

The William L. Carter Perseverance Award is given to the student who demonstrates a strong commitment to service, takes a leadership role in their community, has overcome adversity, and reflects the tenacious character of William “Bill” Carter. 

United Way of Westchester and Putnam was instrumental in establishing the African American Men of Westchester’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy Awards in 2002 and has participated in it each year since its inception.

United Way Awards Four Ruth Taylor Scholarships Totaling $14,000

White Plains, NY (January 2021) – United Way of Westchester and Putnam announced the awarding of $3,500 scholarships from its Ruth Taylor Fund to four Westchester graduate students pursuing master’s degrees in social work or public health.

The four recipients are Emma Kaishian of Sleepy Hollow, Holly Fink of Larchmont, Joseph Benenati of Eastchester, and Stefanie Nolli Gaspar of White Plains. Kaishian is pursuing her Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University. Fink and Nolli Gaspar are earning their Master of Social Work from Fordham University, and Benanti is seeking his Master of Social from CUNY Lehman College.

“We, at United Way of Westchester and Putnam, strongly believe in investing in the leaders of tomorrow and these individuals demonstrate their commitment to the Westchester community by already working or volunteering for a local nonprofit,” said Tom Gabriel, president and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “We are impressed with the work these recipients have done and look forward to watching them grow.”

Benenati is a volunteer at the New Rochelle Humane Society and Lifting Up Westchester, and interns at R.A.I.N. Total Care. Fink is the founder of Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration, vice president of Neighbors for Refugees, board member of Westchester Jewish Council and Westchester Jewish Center, and advocates for Indivisible Westchester. Kaishian completed an internship for the United Way of Westchester and Putnam in December 2020 and is the Women 4 Women president. Nolli Gaspar is the founder and co-director of White Plains Still Dreaming, secretary of Teens Under Construction, and is a domestic violence counselor for My Sisters’ Place.

“I am honored to be a recipient of the Ruth Taylor Scholarship,” said Kaishian. “This scholarship will support my access to higher education, which will enable me to embark upon a career where I hope to improve access to healthcare. COVID-19 has hindered opportunities for students, such as me, to make ends meet financially. I am so grateful to United Way for the much-needed relief.”

The fund was established in tribute to Ruth Taylor upon her retirement as Westchester County’s Commissioner of Public Welfare, recognizing her nearly four decades of outstanding service.  United Way of Westchester and Putnam, Westchester County Government, and the Urban League of Westchester County sponsor the annual awards. Applicants must be residents of Westchester County and enrolled in graduate studies in Social Work or Public Health on a full-time basis.

Since the 2008-2009 academic year, 64 students from Westchester received a collective $175,000 in Ruth Taylor scholarships.

See Emma Kaishian’s profile
See Holly Fink’s profile
See Joseph Benenati’s profile
See Stefanie Nolli Gaspar’s profile

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.

Katie Harris

Featured Volunteer: Katie Harris

Today we are featuring our AmeriCorps VISTA member, Katie Harris!

Katie is a VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) in the midst of completing her service year at United Way of Westchester and Putnam. She is an Economic Mobility VISTA through the AmeriCorps program.

Katie’s service year focus is managing a financial empowerment program entitled ALICE $ense, which aims to provide tools and resources that will help individuals gain financial knowledge and stability that they can carry with them through their lives. During her service year, Katie also assisted with other projects such as constructing a Born Learning Trail, volunteering at our Putnam food distribution, and helping distribute donated blankets to dozens of nonprofits before the holidays.

“I volunteer at United Way of Westchester and Putnam because I appreciate how the organization strives to aid the local communities and fight poverty. Service has always been an important part of my life and at UWWP you feel like you’re contributing to a greater impact. United Way has a hand in so many different areas, it’s really incredible.”

Katie graduated from Siena College with a Bachelor of Science in Management, with a focus in Information Systems and Strategic Human Resource Management. She was born and raised in Brewster, NY, and has spent most of her time between Putnam and Westchester counties. Katie was a Girl Scout for over a decade and has participated as a member in several service oriented clubs and honor societies.

United Way Announces $500,000 in Grant Opportunities for Westchester and Putnam Nonprofits

The United Way of Westchester and Putnam has announced its latest round of Crisis Funding, which will disperse over $500,000 in grants to local nonprofits through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

“The current economic crisis leaves thousands of our neighbors hungry and at risk of being evicted from their homes,” said United Way President and CEO Tom Gabriel. “We are pleased that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we have been able to offer $1.8 million in assistance to nonprofit organizations working on the front lines to serve our community and urge them to apply for grants through this latest round of funding.”

The United Way of Westchester and Putnam is accepting applications for Phase 38 of the Emergency Food and Shelter Funds available through the Local Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Boards in Westchester County. This program provides federal funding which helps to extend currently available services for the hungry and homeless. Westchester is awarded $464,020 and Putnam is awarded $46,087 in this round of grants.

The deadline for submission of completed applications is 5 p.m. on Friday, January 22, 2021.

Eligible applicants must: 1) be nonprofit; 2) be eligible to receive federal funds; 3) have an accounting system or an approved fiscal agent; 4) conduct an annual audit if awarded $25,000 or more in federal funds; 5) practice non-discrimination; 6) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and shelter services; 7) have a voluntary board; 8) have the capacity to either chargeback or expend Phase 38 funding during the jurisdiction’s selected spending period; 9) must be able to completely and accurately obtain, retain and submit required documentation with reports and use DocuSign and online reporting.

The application is available online at www.uwwp.org/efsp-phase38. Further information on the program may be obtained by contacting: Faith Ann Butcher, EFSP Director at United Way of Westchester and Putnam at (914) 997-6700 ext. 753.

Thousands of Toys Given to Children to Celebrate the Holiday Season

Together we can help so many families! 

United Way of Westchester and Putnam teamed with Toys for Tots to give toys to thousands of children from low- to moderate-income families throughout our communities. In Putnam and Northern Westchester, United Way organized to deliver gifts through its partnership with DoorDash to the families’ homes. 

“Thank you all so much. My tree was empty. Now because of your services, I have something to give the kids. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart,” said Mrs. K from Carmel. 

United Way invested or leveraged its resources through its Essential Goods for Basic Needs program to provide toys to over 1,000 children in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains, Port Chester Mamaroneck through its nonprofit and school district partners.

“Words cannot express how thankful we are for your donation of these gifts. We will be able to get these to children who otherwise may not get anything this Christmas. Thank you, United Way,” said a representative from the Mount Vernon School District.
Thank you to all our partners who made this possible:

914 Cares
CHOICE of NY
Elmsford School District
Grace/ La Gracia Episcopal Church
The Michael Nolan Foundation
Mount Vernon School District
Neighbors For Refugees
Ossining School District
Pamela’s Big Heart Foundation
Peekskill School District
Port Chester Carver Center
Putnam Dept. of Social Services
Team Continuum
Toys for Tots
WestCOP
Yonkers Council of PTA/PTSAs

United Way Teams Up with Restaurants to Deliver Holiday Meals

To make Thanksgiving and Christmas a little more special this year, United Way of Westchester and Putnam partnered with Falafel Taco in Pleasantville and Crossroads Deli and Catering in Mahopac to deliver traditional holiday meals to those who have struggled in 2020. The restaurants donated over 250 meals to some of United Way’s Ride United program recipients, which delivers food and other essential goods to seniors and homebound families.

“We are so appreciative to be part of the Heroes and Homebound program during the early part of the pandemic that we wanted to give back,” said Crossroads owner James Russell. The Heroes and Homebound program, which was done in partnership with Putnam Community Cares, provided 4,500 delivered meals to the families of first responders and health care workers as well as seniors and immune-compromised individuals from March through June.

Jonathan Langsam, the owner of Falafel Taco, ran Facebook fundraisers to raise the money for the meals he provided. “United Way does such great work in the community, and we wanted to find a way to work with them and help those who have are in need,” said Langsam.

Since July, United Way’s Ride United Program has provided over 10,000 deliveries to Westchester and Putnam households.

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.