Cornell’s United Way chapter kicked off its annual campaign Friday in Willard Straight Hall, featuring remarks from Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 as well as student and staff representatives.
Cornell United Way, which raised $815,152 last year, works in conjunction with the United Way of Tompkins County to provide basic needs of education, income and health to members of the community. With a total campaign goal of $2 million for the year, United Way is hoping that this year’s Cornell contributions will reach $750,000.
Myrick, who said he is no stranger to hard times, stressed the importance of coming together to address community needs.
“After a lifetime of poverty, I came to understand that big problems require collective solutions,” Myrick said. “There’s no one program that’s going to fix it all, there’s no one initiative that’s going to solve every problem. You need to work together.”
Ted Dodds, campaign chair of Cornell United Way and vice president of information technologies, laid out the primary focus points of this year’s campaign.
The chapter is aiming to be more strategic about its communications in order to garner more support and better emphasize United Way’s role and message, Dodds said. He also said he hoped to gather a larger cohort of volunteers.
The most significant change for this year’s campaign is a new optional online pledging system to complement the traditional paper pledging. Previously, Dodds said donors could only use paper forms to pledge money.
Dodds, who called the giving nature of Cornell and the important work of United Way “an incredible and dynamic combination,” said the new pledging system could be the starting point to a potential shift to only online donations.
Cornell Student United Way, led by president Elizabeth Joyce ’16, is having two main events this year to raise funds — the ninth annual A Capella United Concert that was held Sept. 13 in Bailey Hall and the annual Duff Ball dance.
James Brown, president of United Way Tompkins County, discussed Cornell’s past and present importance to the organization, calling the school “a big part of United Way.”
The Tompkins County chapter was established in 1921 in large part due the efforts of Cornellians, who went door to door to rally community support and helped convince the mayor and community leaders to take action, according to Brown.
Myrick emphasized that any contribution from Cornellians or community members would enhance the community as a whole.
“When you support the United Way of Tompkins County, you’re contributing to a better way of life for every person who lives in this county,” Myrick said.
Speakers said that while United Way and similar organizations have done much for the community over the years, there is still work to be done to address the basic needs of families and individuals.
“[These community] problems are real,” Brown said. “We see them every day. But at the same time there is hope, as we’ve seen through programs and people’s lives who we’ve changed.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the annual Duff Ball dance will take place on Jan. 31. In fact, there is no set date for the dance at the moment.