Cornell community steps up to support United Way campaign

The Cornell United Way President’s Leadership Association recognized 186 members of the Cornell community who have contributed at least $1,000 to the current campaign in a virtual ceremony March 24.

“This year’s theme is ‘We Were Built For This’ – and it’s so true that the United Way is built to be the resource that’s already in place when the unexpected happens,” said President Martha E. Pollack, who delivered brief remarks to the gathering on video.

“Throughout this extraordinary year,” she said, “United Way has been there for our community, reaching out and providing the help and resources that are so needed, throughout Tompkins County and in our neighboring counties.”

The event began with a welcome from emcee Brandon Fortenberry, director of Cornell Catering, and remarks of gratitude from Cornell United Way campaign chair Pat Wynn, assistant vice president for student and campus life. Wynn announced that she will direct next year’s campaign, her fourth.

Pollack followed, thanking both Wynn and United Way of Tompkins County president and CEO James Brown for their efforts, as well as county campaign co-chairs Jean McPheeters and Dominick Recckio.

Currently, the Cornell campaign has received more than $573,000 in donations – approximately 82% of its goal of $700,000 – with 186 donors contributing at the $1,000 level or higher. Their contributions constitute nearly 75% of the campaign’s current total.

“I’ve said over and over throughout this year,” Pollack said, “that every success we’ve had at Cornell – in reopening, in keeping our cases low, in keeping our academic enterprise active and thriving – all of them have been community successes. Everything we’ve achieved has relied on the contributions and the teamwork of everyone at Cornell – our faculty, our staff, our students and their families.

“And United Way lets us extend that teamwork beyond Cornell,” she said, “helping to ensure the well-being not just of our campus community, but of the larger, regional community that is our home. I am so grateful to be part of that community, which has pulled together in such a remarkable way throughout such challenging circumstances, and thankful to all of you, who have been so generous to this year’s campaign.”

Following Pollack’s remarks, attendees – including Fortenberry himself – volunteered their stories of why they chose to contribute. Brown then spoke about the Tompkins County campaign, thanking Pollack and Cornell for their contributions; Fortenberry then introduced McPheeters and Recckio, who highlighted partner programs that have received funding through the United Way.

McPheeters also announced that the county United Way campaign has exceeded its fundraising goal of $1.5 million.

The presentation closed with a one-minute United Way promotional video featuring Amanda Gorman, national youth poet laureate, who read her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” Jan. 20 at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

 

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