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Employee campaign accepts challenge to return value to Buffalo

Joyelle Tadeschi, right, director of the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Hope Center, speaks at the Employees Campaign for the Community kickoff breakfast. With her are campaign chair Marsha Lewis and United Way  president and CEO Michael Weiner. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published September 17, 2015

“In New York State, there is no other university that collects money that goes back to the community at the level you do.”
Michael Weiner, president and CEO
United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

When Joyelle Tadeschi was just a girl, her father would drive her through the East Side of Buffalo to give her the “used-to-be” tour.

He would point out what used to be his home and the houses of his siblings. All that remains of the homes today are a mixture of vacant lots and tattered remains.

The experience stuck with Tadeschi and led her to the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Hope Center, where she now serves as director. The center works to rebuild Buffalo’s East Side — where more than 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty level — and responds to the needs of its communities by assisting the homeless, providing free meals and job assistance.

The center is just one of the many agencies that benefits from the annual UB Employees Campaign for the Community.

UB kicked off its 2015 campaign with a breakfast this morning in the Center for the Arts attended by campaign liaisons, university senior leadership and representatives from community agencies.

Through a partnership with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, UB employees participating in the campaign donate to more than 2,000 organizations, among them Cradle Beach Camp, SPCA Serving Erie County and Jericho Road Community Health Center.

“In New York State, there is no other university that collects money that goes back to the community at the level you do,” Michael Weiner, United Way president and CEO, told those attending the breakfast.

“This university has benefited from unprecedented philanthropy,” Weiner continued, referencing the $30 million gift from the Jacobs family to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“It’s just another indication of the value and commodity that the university plays in this community. However, what I take value in is that while the community is supportive of the university, it’s the workforce and the leadership who really help give back to the community.”

UB has raised nearly $18 million since the campaign began in 1976. This year’s goal has been set at $875,000, a slight increase from the 2014 target of $865,000, announced Marsha Lewis, dean of the School of Nursing and the 2015 campaign chair.

President Satish Tripathi expressed confidence in the university community’s ability to not only meet the new goal, but exceed it.

“We have one the best campaigns in the country and are among the top universities in terms of fundraising,” Tripathi said.

Weiner called on UB faculty and staff to increase their volunteer participation and join the United Way in its annual Day of Caring next August.

“It’s not always about money,” he said. “One of the biggest challenges that United Way has always faced is that many people see us as a pledge card — that all we do in the community is generate assets that go back into service. But that’s not all that we do and that’s not all that you do.”

Visit the Campaign for the Community website to learn more about the campaign and to donate to one of several hundred community organizations that benefit from the campaign.