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Upstate Foundation seeks funding for center for special needs

Community Giving Campaign enters second month

The Upstate Community Giving campaign enters its second month with the continued call for the Upstate employees to support the campaign and the hundreds of local agencies it benefits.

The need for support, especially this year, is outlined in a letter from campaign co-chairs Gennady Bratslavsky, MD, and Mark Schmitt, PhD. They write: “Our community faces serious challenges — poverty, addiction, abuse. Local non-profit agencies tackle these issues with compassion, hard work and too-little funding. The financial and societal impact of COVID-19 has had a dire effect on local non-profits. Meager budgets are slashed. Devoted staff are furloughed. Still, the agencies persevere. Food is distributed, children are cared for, and those without homes are given shelter.”

Echoing the urgent need is the United Way's Chief Development Officer Meghann Sandak.

"Now more than ever our support is needed in the community, as losses in sales tax revenue are resulting in funding cuts to our agencies from the local and state governments," she said. "The pandemic has caused increased demand for the services these agencies provide, but at the same time the agencies are less likely to be able to cover the cost of providing these services. It is up to us to support the network of services in our community so that people have access to the supports that they need."

One agency ensuring the hungry are fed is the Food Bank of CNY. It is an agency that has a strong relationship with Upstate. Lynn Hy, chief development officer of the Food Bank of Central New York, said, “Upstate Medical University is a pillar of our community and Food Bank of Central New York appreciates their partnership throughout the year.”

Upstate hosted a virtual fundraiser for the agency earlier this year at the height of the pandemic and raised enough money to support more than 26,000 meals in the community.

The agency supports a mobile food pantry to work around food access obstacles and food deserts. The Food Bank can set up a distribution anywhere with space to accommodate vehicle parking, tents, delivering food directly to hungry families and individuals in underserved areas.

The Food Bank of CNY also helps people apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.

Upstate’s campaign also benefits funds at the Upstate Foundation—there are more than 1,000—that cover a wide range of services that touch on every aspect of Upstate’s mission. One key initiative is the fundraising campaign for the Golisano Center for Special Needs.

The center will provide comprehensive, coordinated and scientifically based medical and behavioral care for children and adolescents with many types of intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center will act as the umbrella, creating a framework to increase collaboration resulting in better patient care. It will centralize programs and services available to this population.

The need for such a dedicated center is immense. Children with intellectual and development disabilities often endure long waits to receive an evaluation from a physician and have difficulties accessing the limited care there is available. Officials say the new center has the capacity to increase the number of children care for by more than 150 percent.

The Golisano Center for Special Needs also will promote ongoing research in these areas and strive to grow the workforce of intellectual and developmental disability health professionals through Upstate’s new Behavior Analysis Studies master’s degree program.

The complete resource for the Community Giving Campaign can be found here. This site contains the nuts and bolts of the campaign, including a list of campaign representatives for each department and a list of charities and funds to support.

There are plenty of incentives to giving this year, which can be found here along with a complete list of this year’s campaign winners.

“There has never been a more important time to use our giving powers to become superheroes,” said Zanette Howe, Upstate’s Giving Campaign director. “Thank you to all our employees who have already donned their superhero capes and support the campaign, and I look forward to many more members of the Upstate community to join them.”