President Martha E. Pollack speaks with Pat Wynn, Cornell United Way campaign chair and assistant vice president for student and campus life, at a Feb. 24 event at the Moakley House.

President Pollack honors university supporters of United Way

The Cornell United Way President’s Leadership Association recognized 168 members of the Cornell community who have contributed $1,000 or more to this year’s United Way campaign in an event held Feb. 24 at Moakley House.

“Cornell was never intended to exist just for itself, or just for its students,” President Martha E. Pollack said in thanking the university community for its efforts.

“It was always intended to be a place with a public purpose: designed to make the world a better place in as many ways as possible, through as many means as possible,” she said.  “I think it’s fitting that every year, Cornell takes such a significant role in the United Way campaign – to make the world better, right here at home, and to build these ‘New Possibilities’ for so many people across Tompkins County.”

Currently, the Cornell campaign has received more than $505,713 in donations – approximately 84% of its goal of $600,000 – with 168 donors contributing at the $1,000 level or higher. Their contributions constitute nearly 76% of the campaign’s current total.

The Feb. 24 event began with a welcome from Cornell United Way campaign chair Pat Wynn, assistant vice president for student and campus life. Wynn is also serving as the 2022 campaign chair for the United Way of Tompkins County, which is celebrating its 100th year with the theme of “New Possibilities.”

“Just in the last two years, the pandemic has put a real strain on the safety nets so many of our community members rely on,” Wynn said. “But with your help and the help of many other members of the Cornell community, the United Way has been able to meet the increasing needs of our local nonprofit organizations.”

Wynn also reminded attendees that the Big Red One-Day Online Auction for the United Way is back from hiatus and will be live for 24 hours beginning at midnight on March 11.

James Brown, president and CEO of United Way of Tompkins County, closed the ceremony by sharing what the local United Way accomplished during the pandemic, in addition to paying more than $660,000 in grants to local community groups. Since July 1, he said, United Way has made 143 direct payments for 120 households to landlords, utility companies, health care providers, auto shops, insurance companies and other businesses, totaling $53,407.

“If you’d asked me two years ago when we last were together, ‘Will United Way ever make direct payments to people for their bills?’ I would have said ‘We don’t have the capacity, that is not one of our core competencies,’” Brown said. “But we’re in the direct service business and that’s what our community needed, and you gave us the support, with others, to be able to make that change, so thank you.”

Those who wish to donate to this year’s campaign can visit the Cornell United Way website.