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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

United Way 2006

New director lays out vision for upcoming campaign

Lennon
Lennon

The University will launch its 2006 United Way campaign in March with a new director at the helm. Andrea Lennon, executive director and chief operating officer for the Center for Community Health at the Medical Center, is leading this year's effort. She recently discussed campaign goals and initiatives under way to encourage giving at all levels of the University.

Last year's campaign successfully reached its goal of raising more than $1 million. How do you plan to build on that success? And are there specific challenges for the year ahead?

The 2005 campaign was incredibly successful, with more than $1 million in pledges from University faculty and staff in addition to the more than $150,000 pledged from employees at Highland Hospital and the Visiting Nurse Service (VNS). It was part of a local campaign that raised $35.5 million to support more than 200 programs in the Greater Rochester area.

While contributions at the University have grown since 2001 by over $200,000, increasing the number of employees who contribute to the United Way is one of our overarching goals in the coming year. In 2005, about 37 percent of employees from the University including Highland Hospital and VNS contributed compared to 42 percent two years ago, despite the fact that the University has grown significantly as an employer.

For years the University has sponsored an annual fundraising drive for the United Way. Why is there such a strong connection between the two organizations?

The University receives close to $1.3 million in annual United Way funding for programs and services through our Mt. Hope Family Center, the Children's Institute, Strong Memorial Hospital, and VNS. As someone who has worked in health care and community outreach for over 14 years, starting in 1991 with VNS, I know first hand the benefit of United Way funding. The daycare program and Meals-on-Wheels service through VNS receive significant support from United Way donations to provide much-needed services. Without such support, these services would face considerable financial challenges.

The University, like the United Way, has a strong commitment to our community. In addition to the many efforts under way through our various schools, colleges, and Medical Center to link our vast knowledge and student energy with community needs, one of the best ways to help is to support the United Way. As other area employers continue to decrease in size, our contribution to the annual campaign becomes increasingly more important.

What do you say to those who wonder if their contributions are being used effectively?

Rochester is a relatively small community rich in resources. The United Way is an engine to best use the dollars available to fill gaps not covered by government funding. We're very fortunate we have such a well-run local United Way organization, where 100 percent of every dollar goes back into the community. In addition, the review process is extremely efficient, ensuring a positive return on the investment by requiring that the nonprofit agencies report on outcomes.

Giving to the United Way also is a great way to take care of our own. Last year, more than 830 University workers and members of their families received assistance through United Way­funded services. By supporting the campaign, we support each other and many of the amazing programs that touch the lives of those around us--our coworkers, colleagues, and friends.

What steps do you plan to take to encourage employee participation?

We're looking to increase the campaign's profile this year through marketing and events, and by launching a Web site. We also hope to work with external vendors to offer more incentives to employees such as prizes and weekly drawings.

The key element, however, will be recruiting more volunteers. We'll be asking officers, deans, and directors to help support us by identifying volunteers who can communicate the importance of the United Way to employees and distribute and collect pledge cards.

Are there others who are integral to the success of the campaign?

Yes, certainly the leadership and commitment made by President Seligman to the campaign and to the community is important. Peter Robinson, vice president and chief operating officer of the Medical Center and Strong Health, continues to work closely with the United Way and to oversee our efforts here at the University. In addition, so much of the campaign's success stems from the hard work of hundreds of campaign volunteers across the University and from the support of the campaign staff, Cathy Densieski and Marianne Tress.

When will the 2006 campaign launch?

There's a tremendous amount of up-front work going on now to ensure we have everything ready to go when we launch what we hope will be an intense five-week campaign in early March. The possibilities for the coming year are very exciting, and I'm honored to represent the University in this special community outreach effort.

On behalf of the University, I would also like to give a special thank-you to Robert Allen, who directed the campaign for the last four years. We wish him well in his retirement.



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