Change is good! Esso changed its name to Exxon, Cingular to AT&T, and Relational Software to Oracle. And now The Volunteer Center of United Way has announced it is changing its name to Volunteer New York! At its 34th annual Volunteer Spirit Awards breakfast this morning, Alisa H. Kesten, executive director of Volunteer New York!, told the crowd of nearly 600 attendees, "The goal of our new name is to create a call to action, increase volunteerism, and better encompass the expanded Westchester and Mid-Hudson Valley region we have been covering since 2011."
Kesten emphasized that Volunteer New York! and United Way of Westchester and Putnam are not parting ways. "In fact, we are taking this opportunity to deepen our commitment to Westchester and Putnam by focusing on volunteerism in the areas of education, income, and health -- the building blocks for a better life for all," she said. United Way’s work in these focus areas and commitment to measurable impact will continue to be coupled with Volunteer New York! to effectively mobilize quality volunteers to enact positive change.
Scott Morrison, chairman elect of United Way of Westchester and Putnam, commented, "This ideal partnership has been showing results for nearly 30 years with thousands of volunteers mobilized to do great things in Westchester and Putnam, and we have exciting plans for the coming year." This fall Volunteer New York! and United Way of Westchester and Putnam will be launching a new campaign together to better connect volunteer mentors and tutors to at-risk children as part of United Way’s SmartStart initiative.
At the breakfast Kesten also announced the new Volunteer New York! Youth Initiative. "The goal of this program is to increase meaningful volunteerism among the youth in Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Valley," she said. "When young people engage in community service, they are more likely to have a positive sense of empowerment and less likely to engage in risky behavior. Young volunteers do better in school, have a greater success finding meaningful jobs, and feel more connected to their families and communities."
The Volunteer New York! Youth Initiative is designed to help parents and teachers connect to an efficient way to find appropriate service opportunities for the young people they care for. Building on its expertise, Volunteer New York! has developed this program to respond to the increased need for community services as well as the increased demand for volunteer opportunities among the region's youth. Among the programs and services planned are: a Youth Summit, Youth Advisory Council, and Youth and Family Volunteer Calendar.
The SmartStart initiative addresses the pressing issue that too many of our children are not making it to graduation. Research shows reading rates and attendance in elementary school are major factors in predicting future high school dropout rates. By matching Westchester and Putnam’s at-risk children with mentors and tutors, Volunteer New York! and United Way of Westchester and Putnam will be ensuring a better future for the children and for the economic stability of the community.
Volunteer New York!
The core mission of Volunteer New York! is to inspire, mobilize, and equip individuals and groups to take positive action to address pressing challenges, support nonprofits and strengthen the quality of life in our community. The organization encourages adults to serve, youth to build character, families to bond, young professionals to lead, mature adults to share their wisdom and businesses to engage through volunteerism. By connecting individuals to nonprofit organizations as well as through organized volunteer projects, Volunteer New York! helps people take action to strengthen the quality of life in Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Over 250,500 hours of service were devoted last year to 500 nonprofits at a value of over $8.2 million. In September 2011, The Westchester-based Volunteer Center was designated one of ten Regional Volunteer Centers in the State of New York, covering Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan counties. For more information, visit www.volunteernewyork.org.
Corporate Champions who strongly support the mission of Volunteer New York! are New York Life, IBM, MasterCard Worldwide, PepsiCo, TD Charitable Foundation, Bunge, Con Edison, Robison Oil Corporation, Scent 2 Market , Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, the Journal News Media Group, M&T Bank, Morgan Stanley, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., The Dannon Company, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, O'Connor Davies, LLP, Pentegra Retirement Services, RPW Group, and The Rollins Agency Inc. Ongoing support is provided by United Way of Westchester and Putnam, and Westchester County.