Sep 16, 2019
Community Bikes is one of the many local organizations that have received support from the United Community Chest of Cazenovia, Fenner and Nelson — an independent volunteer organization that solicits contributions from area businesses and individuals to make grants for local charities. Community Bikes is a not-for-profit organization that collects and refurbishes donated bicycles and provides them to those who can’t afford them. So far this year, Community Bikes has served more than 300 low-income families and individuals in Madison County, including the greater Cazenovia area. (Submitted)
By Kate Hill
This month, the United Community Chest of Cazenovia, Fenner and Nelson (UCCCFN) will conduct its annual fund appeal to help further its mission of supporting organizations that serve the local community.
Established in 1957, UCCCFN is an independent volunteer organization that solicits contributions from businesses and individuals within the Cazenovia Central School District to make grants to local charitable organizations.
The 501c3 non-profit organization is operated by a board of directors, which includes President Jim Wigge, Treasurer Jill Ryan, Michael Woltman, Ainslie Ellis, Diane Ryan, Mary Jane Huffman and Walter Joncas.
In total, UCCCFN has raised and distributed more than $1 million, with 100 percent of all donations remaining in the area.
“It’s a nice way to give because you can write one check and it goes to a lot of organizations,” Jill Ryan said. “It’s also a way to give to organizations without getting on everybody’s mailing lists. We never give out personal information.”
In 2018 and 2019, the organization distributed approximately $20,000 per year. In past years, however, UCCCFN has raised over $50,000.
This year, the board hopes to raise at least $25,000.
UCCCFN-funded charities may vary from year to year, but among the list of organizations that received funding in the past two years are: Madison County Children’s Camp, Community Action Partnership for Madison County, CazCares, Arise at the Farm, Cazenovia Community Preschool (CCP), Heritage Farm, Cazenovia Children’s House, Madison County Office for the Aging, Community Bikes, and Community Liberty Resources – Help Restore Hope.
“Cazenovia is a special place in large part due to the overwhelming generosity of our community,” said Kaleen Sessler, executive director of CCP. “Community Chest of Cazenovia, Fenner and Nelson has been a supporter of CCP for many years. As a result of their generosity and that of the community at large, we are able to continue to provide a well rounded and nurturing learning experience for the children of Cazenovia and surrounding areas, regardless of income or ability. I know our preschool feels very blessed to be one of the organizations supported by Community Chest. Their generosity helps us continue our mission in hopes of supporting preschool education for another 50 years.”
According to Jill Ryan, UCCCFN’s operating costs are very low.
“It’s bare-bones expense-wise,” she said. “It’s all volunteers, so nobody gets paid, and pretty much our only expenses are the costs of the annual appeal letter and insurance – everything else is donated locally.”
The board of directors is responsible for contacting the charities, receiving funding requests, sending out the annual appeal letters, “vetting” the charities, and allocating the funds to approved organizations.
Each charity is required to provide appropriate documentation from New York State and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as detailed information regarding the organization’s mission; examples of past or ongoing projects; the number of individuals served in the area; and the work that UCCCFN funding would support.
The board uses the information to evaluate the funding requests and determine how best to distribute their resources.
According to Jill Ryan, donations of all sizes are encouraged.
“We aren’t just looking for big donors,” she said. “Even a little bit helps. People send us anywhere from $2 to $1,000. If everybody in town gave $25, it would be so great.”
UCCCFN accepts donations year-round. All contributions are tax-deductible.
Donate via PayPal at www.UCCCFN.org or send a check to United Community Chest of Cazenovia, Fenner and Nelson, P.O. Box 73, Cazenovia, NY 13035.
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