Spring 2017 Newsletter


Newsletter Archives

7/17/2017

UNITY HOUSE RECEIVES GRANT
Cayuga Community Fund awards $1,450 for stove installation

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. has been awarded a $1,450 grant from the Cayuga Community Fund. The funds will be used to install a stove/oven unit at the agency’s PROS mental health program in Auburn.

PROS will utilize the new equipment in the existing kitchen to prepare and serve meals to the participants and staff members through a class called Café Creations. The class involves meal planning, cost analysis, pricing, food shopping and preparation, safety and serving, handling and managing money with the assistance of a cash register, and more. Participants are able to utilize the skills they learn in this class in their personal lives while also building skills that could be applied at a food service job, a cashier job, and many other employment settings.

For more information about this grant, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

6/6/2017

Auburn, NY – Unity House of Cayuga County is celebrating 40 years of serving individuals with disabilities. To recognize this milestone, the Cuddy Law Firm is sponsoring a party to raise money in honor of the organization’s 40th anniversary. The Summer Bash will be held on July 2 from noon – 10pm at the home Andrew and Shobna Cuddy, 1485 Turnpike Road, Auburn. Tickets for adults can be purchased for $20 and children 16 and under are free. All are welcome to come and celebrate four decades of service provided by Unity House.

The party will feature plenty of food, music, raffles, and outdoor activities for kids and kids at heart. Barbeque will be provided by Humphrey’s Catering and The Generation Gap will be performing live music during the evening. Additionally, there will be 50/50 raffles as well as a $100 raffle with a chance to win up to $3,000.

Tickets are still available; the event is limited to 200 people so get them while you can! Buy tickets and learn more at www.unityhouse.com/40thanniversary.html or www.facebook.com/unityhouseofcc/ or call (315) 253-6227 x313.

5/16/2017

“MAKING EACH DAY COUNT”
UNITY HOUSE CO-SPONSORS RECOVERY WALK
Annual event recognizes National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court Month

Auburn, New York
– May is National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court Month, and Unity House of Cayuga County is partnering with Auburn City Drug Court, LIFEWORKS, and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to co-host the 12th annual Timothy Durant Recovery Walk. The walk will take place on Tuesday, May 23, beginning at 6:00 pm in front of City Hall, 24 South Street, Auburn. Registration is not necessary and the public is invited to join in the short walk. All are welcome; there is no cost to participate.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill will kick off the event by proclaiming May as National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. Then participants will walk down South Street to Hamilton Street and back, ending at Grace House (58 Osborne Street) for an open house. Refreshments will be served.

“Our community continues to come together to raise awareness about mental health and substance use disorders,” said Grace House Director Allie MacPherson. “The epidemic our country is facing isn’t going away, so we will continue to rally together to bring awareness to the issue.”

The Recovery Walk coincides with National Prevention Week (May 14 - 20). It is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. The theme for National Prevention Week 2017 is “Making Each Day Count.”

The first Recovery Walk was held in 2006. Tim Durant, a former Unity House employee who was part of the Drug Court team, helped plan the first walk, then passed away unexpectedly one week before the event. Auburn Judge Michael McKeon and the Drug Court team dedicated the Recovery Walk in Tim’s memory.

Allie continued: “This year, not only are we walking in memory of Tim Durant, but in memory of those who have lost their lives to the disease of addiction. We are also walking to honor those who are in recovery and those who are struggling. We are walking, as a community, to spread a message of hope. Recovery is possible and there are places where people can go to get the support that they need.”

For more information about the Recovery Walk and local recovery services, please contact Allie MacPherson at Grace House (315-258-3998) or Carol Colvin at Drug Court (315-237-6430).

3/24/2017

UNITY HOUSE ANNOUNCES TWO AWARD WINNERS
Gary Coon and Carey Eidel to be honored at April 24 gala dinner

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017. The agency is pleased to announce its two annual award winners, both of whom will be honored at its gala annual board and award dinner on Monday, April 24. The special event takes place at the Emerson Park pavilion in Auburn beginning at 5:30pm. Cost is $50 per person. The keynote speaker will be Kathy Cronkite on mental wellness. The public is warmly invited to attend. RSVPs are due by April 14. Online registration and payment may be found at www.unityhouse.com/40thanniversary.html.

The Fred Atkins Community Service Award selection committee announces that Mr. Gary Coon of Auburn has been chosen as its 7th annual awardee. Gary was nominated by Linda Mackay of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mr. Coon has been an outstanding community volunteer for many years at a number of organizations in Cayuga County, including Westminster Church, the Calvary food pantry, Fleming Fire Department, the Utopia Club, the S-K Post #1324 of the American Legion, and others. At the dinner, he will receive a $500 cash prize: $250 for him to keep and $250 to be given to the Cayuga County non-profit of his choice. Gary has chosen the Calvary food pantry as this year’s recipient. He will present the check to Nancy Sheffield-Tanner at the dinner.

“I am so honored to be chosen for this award; it really took me by surprise,” said Gary. “I’ve known Fred Atkins and his family since I was a teenager, so it’s an honor to be associated with this award. Looking at the past winners, I’m in good company.”

Unity House introduced the community-wide Atkins fund and award in 2011 in memory of beloved Cayuga County volunteer and 30-year Unity House board member Frederick Atkins. The Atkins Award recognizes an outstanding individual who volunteers in Cayuga County and who exemplifies Fred’s high moral standards and philanthropic spirit.

Unity House’s in-house Open Arms Award committee has selected Mr. Carey Eidel of Auburn Public Theater as its 2017 awardee. Carey was nominated by Allie MacPherson, director of Grace House. Allie says of Carey and Auburn Public Theater: “APT has had a relationship with Unity House for many years, providing consistent volunteer opportunities for Grace House residents. They have gone above and beyond to guide them in their recovery, and provide a creative space for the residents to succeed. Carey and the APT staff have also hired former Grace House residents; they have actually created paying jobs for them once they’ve completed their recovery program, and given them opportunities to be successful and give back to our community. I can’t thank them enough.”

Auburn Public Theater has been open for ten years, and offers community arts events for all.

“We have a mutually beneficial relationship with Unity House, and we are extremely pleased to work with Grace House residents,” said Carey. “If they show the initiative, we respond by taking them under our wing and sharing life and job skills they can use for future employment.”

Unity House established the Open Arms Award in 2012 as a way to recognize a community member or organization that truly welcomes the agency’s program participants in public and/or at their place of business. The awardee demonstrates empathy and genuine delight when interacting with these individuals, helping them to gain a sense of place and inclusion within the community, a hallmark of Unity House’s work. Unity House employees are invited to nominate an individual or company that exemplifies the Open Arms Award: caring, compassion, and a commitment to recognizing ability, not disability.

Many thanks to the following businesses (to date) for supporting Unity House’s annual dinner:
Celebration sponsor ($2,500): Key Bank
Dinner sponsors ($1,000): Cuddy Law Firm, Relph Benefit Advisors, and Welch Allyn
Table sponsors ($400): Currier Plastics, Maguire Family of Dealerships, Reagan Companies, Johnston Paper, and MEDENT
Lake Country Real Estate donated the “Key to the House” fundraiser prize – a one-week cottage rental on Cayuga Lake ($1,100).

For more information about the award presentations or Unity House’s annual dinner, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 and visit www.unityhouse.com/RSVP/boarddinner.asp.

3/14/2017

UNITY HOUSE ANNOUNCES 40th ANNIVERSARY GALA DINNER SPEAKER
Kathy Cronkite will speak on advocacy & mental wellness April 24

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. is observing its 40th anniversary in 2017. As part of the year-long celebration, the agency is pleased to announce that Ms. Kathy Cronkite, mental health advocate and daughter of famed broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite, will be the agency’s keynote speaker at its annual board and award dinner on April 24. The gala evening will take place at the Emerson Park pavilion. Each April, Unity House hosts varying speakers at its dinner, makes community awards, and recognizes its board of directors. The public is warmly invited to attend; the evening will begin at 5:30 pm. Cost is $50 per person. Reservations are required by April 14: call 315-253-6227, email: annualdinner@unityhouse.com or register online at www.unityhouse.com/40thanniversary.html.

Kathy Cronkite is a popular writer, journalist and public speaker. As one of millions who suffer from clinical depression, she has become a tireless champion for mental health. As an advocate, Kathy, the daughter of legendary anchorman Walter Cronkite, delivers a clear message: “Depression must be accepted as the medical condition it is in order to combat the stigma attached to it and to make help available for those who suffer from it.”

Kathy’s knowledge and work are well respected by professionals in the mental health field. As a layperson who has researched extensively the causes and cures of depression, she is uniquely qualified to educate other laypeople on these matters. As a consumer of mental health resources, she brings hands-on experience to her critiques of the services available in the US. Always informative, her presentations are enlivened with compassion, humor, and honesty. With a conviction born of experience, Kathy delivers a message of hope and a call to understanding.

Following Ms. Cronkite’s remarks, Unity House will present the 7th annual Fred Atkins Community Service Award and the 6th Open Arms Award. A full press release is forthcoming.

Unity House is deeply grateful for its corporate dinner sponsors to date: Key Bank, Cuddy Law Firm, Lake Country Real Estate, Welch Allyn, and Relph Benefit Advisors. Table sponsors to date are Currier Plastics, Reagan Companies, Johnston Paper, MEDENT, and the Maguire Family of Dealerships.

For more information about Kathy Cronkite, the awards, or Unity House’s annual dinner, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313 and visit http://www.unityhouse.com/40thanniversary.html.

1/20/2017

UNITY HOUSE FUNDRAISER ON FEBRUARY 5 FOR SUPER BOWL
Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10% of food sales with voucher

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. has partnered once again with Buffalo Wild Wings for a fundraiser in Auburn. On Sunday, February 5 during Super Bowl (from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm), Buffalo Wild Wings at 1612 Clark Street Road, Auburn, will donate 10% of all food sales from any guest that presents a fundraising voucher. Vouchers may be found online at www.unityhouse.com, from the office at 34 Wright Avenue, or by calling 315-253-6227 x313. Simply present your voucher (paper or mobile device) when paying, and share them with friends and family – anyone can participate.

Afterwards, Unity House will receive a donation check for 10% from Buffalo Wild Wings for sales from the day. Eat well and support Unity House – the more meals our friends purchase on February 5 during the Super Bowl, the larger the donation made by Buffalo Wild Wings. Regardless of which team you’re cheering for, Unity House still wins!

Unity House’s mission is to empower and enrich the lives of people in recovery, coping with a mental illness, and/or diagnosed with a developmental disability. This is accomplished by offering services and supports in an inclusive, people-centered environment.

For more information about the fundraiser and Unity House, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

Download the voucher HERE.

12/19/2016

UNITY HOUSE NAMES NEW CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Director Darlene Podolak is promoted to senior executive position

Auburn, New York
– Elizabeth Smith, executive director of Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc., has announced the promotion of Darlene Podolak to chief operating officer from program director. Darlene began her new duties in November.

“Darlene is very deserving of this promotion,” said Smith. “She has been with the agency for nearly 25 years, and is more than qualified to fill this role, which is in essence second in command. Darlene brings historical perspective and is completely committed to the people we serve, staying on the cutting edge of services. She is well respected within the agency and in our community, and will help me lead Unity House in new directions.”

Darlene holds a B.S. in music therapy from SUNY-Fredonia, and a master’s in management from Keuka College. She has worked for the agency since 1992, when she was hired as a program manager. She has held various positions, most recently program director, where she oversaw six certified residential programs and three day habilitation programs serving more than 200 individuals with disabilities in two counties. Darlene managed a complex $7 million budget, and supervised a combined team of 160 employees.

In her new role as chief operating officer, Darlene will assist the executive director by providing strategic leadership for the agency by working with the board of directors and other management to establish long- and short-range goals, strategies, plans, and policies. She will assist with management of Unity House’s $19 million budget. Using her well-developed understanding of OPWDD, OMH, OASAS, ACCES-VR, Medicaid, and other government and social services, she is responsible for the planning, development, staffing, and administration of the agency’s programmatic operations for numerous multi-county programs.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my experience to include all of the individuals we serve at Unity House,” says Darlene. “I have had many opportunities to appreciate the uniqueness of Unity House, the quality of the service and how we deliver those services. I am excited to be participating in the continuance of such a tradition of excellence as the chief operating officer of an agency that does so much for our communities.”

Darlene is a graduate of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Cayuga class of 2000, sits on the board of directors of Westminster Manor and the Auburn Music Boosters, and is actively involved at First Presbyterian Church as a former session member and in the Chancel Choir and the hand bell choir.

Darlene replaces former chief operating officer Paul Joslyn, who left Unity House last summer to take the position of executive director of AccessCNY in Syracuse.

For more information, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

12/14/2016

UNITY HOUSE RECEIVES EQUIPMENT GRANT
Social Service League of Ithaca awards $1,200 for therapy swing

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. has been awarded a $1,200 grant from the Social Service League of Ithaca. The funds will be used to purchase a suspension therapy swing with heavy duty stand for use at the agency’s Ithaca Day Habilitation program. A dozen adults with developmental and physical disabilities will benefit from the use of this therapy swing due to sensory impairments that require them to be in constant motion. The swing will calm and soothe them, provide the needed movement/stimulation, and give them a chance to leave their wheelchairs and experience a different form of physical activity.

For more information about this grant, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

10/6/2016

UNITY HOUSE FUNDRAISER ON OCTOBER 18
Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10% of food sales with voucher

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. has again partnered with Buffalo Wild Wings for a fundraiser in Auburn. On Tuesday, October 18 (from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm), Buffalo Wild Wings at 1612 Clark Street Road, Auburn, will donate 10% of all food sales from any guest that presents a fundraising voucher. Vouchers may be found online at www.unityhouse.com, from the office at 34 Wright Avenue, or by calling 315-253-6227 x313. Simply present your voucher when paying, and share them with friends and family – anyone can participate.

Afterwards, Unity House will receive a donation check for 10% from Buffalo Wild Wings for sales from the day. Eat well and support Unity House – the more meals our friends purchase on October 18, the larger the donation made by Buffalo Wild Wings.

Unity House’s mission is to empower and enrich the lives of people in recovery, coping with a mental illness, and/or diagnosed with a developmental disability. This is accomplished by offering services and supports in an inclusive, people-centered environment.

For more information about the fundraiser and Unity House, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313. Find us on Facebook too: www.facebook.com/unityhouseofcc.

Download the voucher HERE.

9/6/2016

ITHACA FUNDRAISER FOR UNITY HOUSE ON OCTOBER 5
Doug’s Fish Fry To-Go benefit will support non-profit agency

Auburn, New York
– Unity House has again partnered with Doug’s Fish Fry for a fundraiser in Ithaca. On Wednesday, October 5 from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Doug’s concession trailer will be parked at the Tractor Supply Company, 387 Elmira Road (Rt. 13 near Kohl’s), Ithaca. The most popular menu items will be cooked to order and offered to go. Cold drinks and baked goods will also be available for purchase from Unity House service recipients.

Unity House provides housing, rehabilitative, respite, and employment services for nearly 700 adults with disabilities in six CNY counties. Some of these individuals will be selling baked goods and cold drinks during the event. Afterwards, Unity House will receive a donation check for a percentage of Doug’s Fish Fry sales from the day.

Enjoy the same great seafood you love in Cortland and Skaneateles, but without the drive! Eat well and support Unity House – the more seafood our friends purchase, the larger the donation made by Doug’s.

For more information about the fundraiser and Unity House, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

7/25/2016

UNITY HOUSE FUNDRAISER AT BASS PRO THIS WEEKEND
Hot dog sale proceeds benefit people with disabilities

Auburn, New York
– Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. has partnered with Bass Pro Shops for a fundraiser in Auburn. This Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31, Bass Pro and Unity House employees will be cooking hot dogs on the grill outside the store and selling cold drinks. The public is invited to stop by Bass Pro at Finger Lakes Mall (1579 Clark Street Road, Auburn) for a snack, lunch or dinner. The grill will be going from 11:00am – 4:00pm both days.

Afterwards, Unity House will receive a donation check from Bass Pro for sales from the weekend. Eat well and support Unity House – the more hot dogs our friends purchase this weekend, the larger the donation made by Bass Pro. All proceeds will support Unity House’s residential programs for people with developmental disabilities. Unity House staff will also be selling raffle tickets for an 8’ picnic table with umbrella and a handmade Mennonite quilt. Tickets are $2 each or three for $5.

Unity House’s mission is to empower and enrich the lives of people in recovery, coping with a mental illness, and/or diagnosed with a developmental disability. This is accomplished by offering services and supports in an inclusive, people-centered environment.

For more information about the fundraiser and Unity House, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

5/12/2016

UNITY HOUSE RECEIVES GRANT FROM SPEISER FUND
Award will provide new computers for Employment Services office

Auburn, New York –
Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. has been awarded a $1,300 grant from the Allen Speiser Memorial Vocational Rehabilitation Fund. The Speiser Fund is overseen by the Central New York Community Foundation. The funds will be used to purchase new desktop computers for consumer and employee use at the Unity Employment Services offices on James Street in Syracuse. This new hardware will allow Unity House employees to help the individuals with disabilities it serves in a more efficient manner, assisting them with job searches and applications, resume and cover letter writing, skill building, online trainings, and more.

For more information about this grant, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313. Additional information about the Allen Speiser Fund and the Central New York Community Foundation can be found at www.cnycf.org.

5/6/2016

UNITY HOUSE CO-SPONSORS RECOVERY WALK
Annual event recognizes National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court Month

Auburn, New York
– May is National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court Month, and Unity House of Cayuga County is partnering with Auburn City Drug Court and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to co-host the 11th annual Timothy Durant Recovery Walk. The walk will take place on Tuesday, May 24, beginning at 6:00 pm in front of City Hall, 24 South Street, Auburn. Registration is not necessary and the public is invited to join in the short walk. All are welcome; there is no cost to participate.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill will kick off the event by proclaiming May as National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. Then participants will walk down South Street to Hamilton Street and back, ending at Grace House (58 Osborne Street) for an open house. Refreshments will be served.

“I’m proud of our community for its efforts to build awareness about this disease and to break the stigma associated with substance abuse,” said GRACE House Director Allie MacPherson. “We look forward to having everyone back to our facility after the walk.”

The Recovery Walk coincides with National Prevention Week (May 15 - 21). It is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. The theme for National Prevention Week 2016 is “Strong As One. Stronger Together.”

“In 2015, Cayuga County experienced 17 drug overdose deaths,” continued Allie. “Our community has responded to this crisis by forming HEAL (Heroin Epidemic Action League), a community-led organization dedicated to raising awareness and getting funding and other resources to treat the disease of addiction. As part of that effort, GRACE House continues to do its best to work with those who are in recovery from alcohol and drugs. We can’t do this alone, but as a community, we can pull together to provide better resources and options for people to get the help they need.”

The first Recovery Walk was held in 2006. Tim Durant, a former Unity House employee who was part of the Drug Court team, helped plan the first walk, then passed away unexpectedly one week before the event. Auburn Judge Michael McKeon and the Drug Court team dedicated the Recovery Walk in Tim’s memory.

For more information about the Recovery Walk, please contact Allie MacPherson at Grace House (315-258-3998) or Carol Colvin at Drug Court (315-237-6430).

5/3/2016

UNITY HOUSE INDUCTS THREE NEW BOARD MEMBERS
Donna Clark, Joe Manning, Chris Sloan join agency in leadership role

Auburn, New York
– Unity House’s Executive Director Liz Smith has announced that three new community leaders have joined the agency’s board of directors. Donna Clark, Joseph Manning, and Chris Sloan began their new duties this winter, and were formally introduced at Unity House’s annual dinner on April 25.

Donna Clark is originally from Oxford, NY. She spent her career working for Defense Contracts Management Agency in Binghamton and Syracuse, retiring in 2007. She then worked as a teacher’s aide at BOCES and as a relief specialist for the E. John Gavras Center in Auburn. Donna has been a board member of Freedom Recreational Services for 20 years.

Joe Manning earned a B.A. from LeMoyne College, and is the owner and president of Homecare Medical Supply Inc. in Auburn. He is a member of the Auburn Kiwanis Club, the Tyburn Academy Parent Organization, and the Cayuga County Highland Search & Rescue team. He sits on the St. Joseph School finance committee and is a graduate of Leadership Cayuga. Joe received the 2003 Cayuga County Red Cross Great Hero award.

Chris Sloan attended Florida Atlantic University before returning to central New York. He is currently assistant store manager at Lowe’s in Auburn. Chris is a former board member of the Auburn High School band boosters, and now volunteers with the annual Harvest of Sound competition. He is also active with the Lowe’s Heroes program, which recognizes Lowe’s employees who are engaged in community service projects.

For more information, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

4/26/2016

YUMMY FUNDRAISER FOR UNITY HOUSE ON MAY 25
Doug’s Fish Fry To-Go benefit will support non-profit agency

Auburn, New York
– Unity House has partnered with Doug’s Fish Fry of Skaneateles for a fundraiser in Auburn. On Wednesday, May 25 from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Doug’s concession trailer will be parked at the Aurelius fire station, 6320 Half Acre Road, Auburn. The most popular menu items will be cooked to order and offered to go.

Unity House provides housing, rehabilitative, respite, and employment services for nearly 700 adults with disabilities in six CNY counties. Some of these individuals will be selling cold drinks and baked goods during the event. Afterwards, Unity House will receive a donation check for a percentage of Doug’s Fish Fry sales from the day.

Enjoy the same great seafood you love in Cortland and Skaneateles, but without the drive! Eat well and support Unity House – the more seafood our friends purchase, the larger the donation made by Doug’s.

For more information about the fundraiser and Unity House, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 x313.

4/8/2016

UNITY HOUSE ANNOUNCES VOLUNTEER AWARDEE
Susan Marteney selected for 6th Fred Atkins Community Service Award

Auburn, New York
– The Fred Atkins Community Service Award selection committee is pleased to announce that Ms. Susan Marteney of Auburn has been chosen as its 6th annual awardee. Ms. Marteney, an outstanding community volunteer at a number of organizations in Cayuga County, will be honored at Unity House’s annual dinner on April 25 at the Springside Inn. There, she will receive a $500 cash prize - $250 for her to keep and $250 to be given to the Cayuga County non-profit of her choice. Susan has chosen Auburn Downtown BID’s summer flower beautification project as this year’s recipient. She will present the check to Stephanie DeVito at the dinner.

Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. introduced the community-wide fund and award in 2011 in memory of beloved Cayuga County volunteer and 30-year Unity House board member Frederick Atkins. The Atkins Award recognizes an outstanding individual who volunteers in Cayuga County and who exemplifies Fred’s high moral standards and philanthropic spirit. Susan knew Fred Atkins personally when he served on the Red Cross board.

This year’s awardee Susan Marteney has lived in Auburn for more than three decades. Susan grew up in Manchester, Conn. and lived in Bangor, Maine before moving to Auburn in the early 1980s. Since that time, Susan has held a number of important positions in Cayuga County, ranging from secretary to the Auburn major, to interim executive director of the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center and Neighborhood House, to owning her own businesses (Aardvarks & Zippers and Tuxill House) to teaching art history at Cayuga Community College and serving as executive director of the Cayuga County chapter of the American Red Cross for nine years. Currently, Susan is actively involved in Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Finger Lakes Art Cooperative, and the Center for Dispute Settlement.

“I am honored to have been selected as the Fred Atkins Community Volunteer by Unity House,” said Susan. “As an almost 35 year resident of Auburn, I am proud to call it home. I believe in this community and know it is important to support it through volunteer work. When we all take pride in improving and enriching Auburn, Auburn and Cayuga County can only be a better place to live.”

Susan earned her B.A. in museum studies and art education from Hartwick College, and received a professional leadership certificate from Syracuse University’s Leadership Institute. Her list of community volunteer activities is impressive and encompasses: Auburn Zoning Board of Appeals, NYSCA grant review committee, Auburn Downtown Partnership, Human Services Coalition, United Way grants committee, Auburn Schools musical club, the Women’s Fund of CNY, and the Auburn Public Chorus. Susan is the founder of the First Monday Book Club, and has served on the Atkins Community Service Award selection committee since its inception in 2010; she stepped off for this year when she herself was nominated for the award.

Susan’s friends are equally impressed by her level of devotion and commitment to the Auburn community. Nominators Cynthia Aikman, Laura Coburn, and Sue Dwyer say of Susan: “Susan’s selfless and dedicated volunteer service enhances our community and represents decades of attention to improving the lives of others. Susan is a servant-leader with a strong work ethic and integrity, and gives fully and wholly from her heart. We believe Susan’s volunteer efforts through all of these years would be hard for most people to match. As a result of her volunteer work, many organizations and agencies throughout Cayuga County are better for having her serve as a board member. She has enriched people’s lives.”

Ms. Marteney will be honored at Unity House’s annual dinner on Monday, April 25 at the Springside Inn, 6141 West Lake Road, Auburn. Guest speaker will be Brian McLane, whose family founded the E. John Gavras Center in Auburn. The public is invited to attend; the evening will begin at 5:30 pm. Cost is $35 per person. RSVP by April 18 to 315-253-6227 or email: annualdinner@unityhouse.com.

Donations to the Atkins Fund are gratefully accepted at any time. Corporate sponsors for the dinner are Cuddy Law Firm and Key Bank. Table sponsors are Currier Plastics, Welch Allyn, Reagan Companies, Johnston Paper, MEDENT, and Lynch Furniture.

For more information about the Fred Atkins Community Service Fund and Award or Unity House’s annual dinner, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 and visit www.unityhouse.com/fredatkinsaward.

4/1/2016

BRENDA BARBAGLIA OF WEEDSPORT WINS AWARD
Auburn Walmart employee to be recognized at Unity House dinner

Auburn, New York
– Unity House is pleased to announce that Brenda Barbaglia, training coordinator at the Auburn Walmart store, has been chosen by Unity House employees as the recipient of its 5th annual Open Arms award. Brenda will be honored at Unity House’s annual dinner on April 25 at the Springside Inn in Auburn.

Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. introduced the Open Arms Award in 2012 as a way to recognize a community member or organization that truly welcomes the agency’s participants with disabilities in public and/or at their place of business. The awardee demonstrates empathy and genuine delight when interacting with these individuals, helping them to gain a sense of place and inclusion within the community, a hallmark of Unity House’s work.

Nominations are sought in-house every spring. Unity House employees only are invited to nominate an individual or company that exemplifies the Open Arms Award: caring, compassion, and a commitment to recognizing ability, not disability.

Brenda Barbaglia of Weedsport was selected this year because “she goes out of her way to help our Unity Employment consumers with all aspects of their jobs at Walmart. Brenda acts as liaison between store management and the [nine] UES employees, often advocating for them and requesting job coaching when it is needed,” said staff nominators Pete Fitzgerald, Susan Wright, and Paul Stratton.

Pete continues, saying: “Brenda reaches out to Unity House when she sees there is an appropriate job opening because she would rather give one of our people a chance than hire someone else off the street. She is caring, gentle, and a friend to every consumer that works for Walmart.”

Brenda was surprised and humbled by the award: “This is wonderful; I am honored to be chosen. I really don’t do anything special. I just always look out for other people. I’m the one who would invite strangers to Easter dinner if they would otherwise be alone on the holiday,” she laughs.

Brenda has worked at the Auburn Walmart store for nearly 20 years, the last six as training coordinator. She will be honored at Unity House’s annual dinner on Monday, April 25 at the Springside Inn, 6141 West Lake Road, Auburn. Guest speaker will be Brian McLane, whose family founded the E. John Gavras Center in Auburn. The public is invited to attend. The evening will begin at 5:30 pm; cost is $35 per person. RSVP by April 18 to 315-253-6227 or email: annualdinner@unityhouse.com.

Corporate sponsors for the dinner are Cuddy Law Firm and Key Bank. Table sponsors are Currier Plastics, Welch Allyn, Johnston Paper, Lynch Furniture, Reagan Companies, and MEDENT.

For more information about the Open Arms Award or Unity House’s annual dinner, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227.

3/1/2016

A Great Community Asset:
Unity House & Two Plus Four Construction purchase Auburn’s West Middle School


Auburn is about to get more affordable housing. With the recent passage of Proposition #1 on the special vote called by the Auburn Enlarged City School District, Unity House will partner with Two Plus Four Construction of East Syracuse to purchase the former West Middle School.

The 118,000 sq. ft. facility located at 217 Genesee Street will sell for $1,060,000. Two Plus Four will reconstruct the building into 59 apartments – 48 single bedroom units and eleven with two bedrooms. Approvals and funding from the state will be forthcoming in early 2016, construction will begin this summer, and the facility will be ready for occupancy in mid-2017.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for both Unity House and Auburn,” said Unity House Executive Director Liz Smith. “This great community asset was sitting empty and provided the opportunity to engage with the community by taking this asset and turning it into affordable housing. It feels like a good thing for all.”

The mixed use housing concept is new for Unity House, and moves away from the traditional residential model. Two Plus Four will manage the apartments, which will be available to the public who meet income eligibility requirements. To expand its mission of providing housing options for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, Unity House will offer services to a minimum of 15 residents.

“The city of Auburn has a huge need for affordable one-bedroom housing units,” said Two Plus Four President Sue Kimmel. “A single individual cannot qualify for a two bedroom apartment, which are predominant in Cayuga County. This project is filling a void by offering apartments with rental fees below market value.”

Two Plus Four and Unity House have been talking about a joint project for about three years. Another plan was considered but state funding was not forthcoming. Ultimately, West Middle School was suggested.

“We saw this as the better project,” continued Sue. “With this building, we can apply for historic tax credits. Rather than new construction, we will renovate an existing unused asset, and this will benefit the community, the school district, and the taxpayers as the property will go back on the tax rolls.”

The project will also create two new jobs and provide public performance space in the 200-seat auditorium. Sue explained that the auditorium, which had been updated just prior to the school’s closure in 2011, will remain separate from the residential part of the building. Community groups will be invited to use the space for trainings, meetings, dance recitals, and other performances.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone,” concluded Sue. “Unity House is a leader in the mental health care system and in helping people with disabilities reach independence. What Two Plus Four does well is provide affordable housing. Bringing the two entities together makes perfect sense. Good housing creates stability in a person’s life. Once an individual has a safe place to live, the rest of their life usually settles out for them. Just that little bit of help can make a big difference in their ability to live independently.”