PLATTSBURGH - It was only a few weeks ago the United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties Inc. was facing a $30,000 shortfall for its $700,000 annual fundraising goal. What a difference a few weeks can make.
During a press conference Feb. 5, John C. Bernardi, executive director of the local nonprofit organization, announced the fundraising campaign team not only met its goal, but exceeded more than they could have imagined.
"We're announcing we exceeded our goal, raising $740,700," said Bernardi.
The $70,000 boost was attributed to several business and individual contributions being "much more than expected," said Bernardi, who credited attention to the issue being raised by the local media.
"We found it to be quite a challenging year for a number of reasons," Bernardi said, citing the troubled national economy and reductions in the local workforce. "On the other hand, we also saw many various successes along the way and saw many campaigns coming in above what they had last year."
"We certainly experienced our share of people stepping up to the plate and recognizing that the needs are very great right now," he added.
Jamie L. Basiliere, who chaired this year's fundraising campaign team, said that increase in support will go a long way with the dollars raised for the United Way and its 33 partner agencies.
"I'd like to thank the community at large who gave to the campaign," said Basiliere. "People gave very, very generously and it's been a great experience, thanks to the community."
Both Basiliere and Bernardi also credited the work of the campaign team in reaching out to local businesses, organizations and individuals to make reaching the goal a reality.
"It was truly a team effort," said Bernardi.
The next step for the United Way is for its allocations committee to determine the amount of funding that will go to each of its partner agencies. That process will begin later this month and conclude in mid-March, said Bernardi.
The total amount of requests is in excess of more than $1 million, but the amount raised will help the majority of the requests, said Sue LeBlanc, president of the local United Way's board of directors.
"The blessing is, we have the funds to be able use to do that," said LeBlanc.
The goal for next year's campaign will be set in the months ahead, and take into account the success of this year's campaign, the state of the local economy, and the employment situation in both counties. "We will do all of those things," said Bernardi. "I can tell you safely that we will not be lowering the goal and there's a good chance we will raise the goal. I can't tell you how much. We have to look at these factors."
Regardless of the figure, Bernardi said the goal will be "realistic" when all factors are taken into account.