April 2016: Nonprofits Today

Working for north country businesses

Editor’s note: The following information was presented March 3 during the Business of the Year Awards given by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. The United Way of Northern New York was named the Small Nonprofit of the Year at the event.

Bob Gorman

Bob Gorman

Every day the Watertown Daily Times prints the names of people charged with driving under the influence. It’s easy to dismiss the names as representing the dregs of society.

But if you are in management around here long enough, one day one of those names will belong to one of your employees, a person who is crucial to the success of your business.
And at that point you want to know right away — what is my employee going to have to do to continue being a productive member of my staff?

Fortunately, our community has recovery programs through two nonprofits, Pivot and Credo, both with solid records of helping good people who have made bad decisions get their lives — and careers — back on track.

At the United Way, we raise money and awareness for 44 nonprofits. The first reason is obvious: We do it to help people who need help. But the second reason might not be as obvious: We support nonprofits because it’s good for business.

Kylie Peck, Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce president, presents the Small Nonprofit of the Year award to the United Way of Northern New York staff. From left, Trudy Slotnick, administrative assistant, Michele Richter, accountant, Patricia Aitcheson, campaign director and Bob Gorman, CEO.

Kylie Peck, Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce president, presents the Small Nonprofit of the Year award to the United Way of Northern New York staff. From left, Trudy Slotnick, administrative assistant, Michele Richter, accountant, Patricia Aitcheson, campaign director and Bob Gorman, CEO.

The house fire you hear about next week is going to affect some company’s employee. And that’s why we support the Red Cross. We know the sooner a family gets help with food, clothing and lodging, the sooner an employee can return to work.

And that’s why we support the SoZoTeen Center at the Children’s Home. We want disadvantaged teenagers to one day become productive, taxpaying members of society rather than yield to the temptation to do destructive things to the community and themselves.

And it’s why we support JRC and DPAO. Not just because they work with developmentally disabled citizens, but because these organizations free parents from being 24-hour-a-day caregivers. It allows a parent to hold a job and advance a career. Like the doctor who has been keeping an eye on my health needs for the last 15 years.

In September, the United Way of Northern New York will be 95 years old. Since 1921 we’ve had one goal: Be the bridge that links businesses and nonprofits, knowing that nonprofits can’t exist without vibrant businesses, and that businesses aren’t as vibrant if their employees can’t get immediate help in times of crisis.

To those of you who support the United Way, thank you. Without you, we would not be here today getting this award.
And for those who don’t, well, our birthday is coming up in September and I know the perfect gift.

Robert D. Gorman is president and CEO of United Way of Northern New York. Contact him at bgorman@unitedway-nny.org or 788-5631. His column appears every other month in NNY Business.