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Theresa Regnante- United Way

June 22, 2012 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Theresa Regnante is the Executive Director of the United Way of Long Island. Theresa was our speaker this morning. The United Way has a 48-year history on Long Island and while the mission remains the same the elements that need attention do vary. However the range of services has always been quite extensive.


The mission pays a lot of attention to programs that foster access to healthcare, providing financial information, family counseling, and education for children.


One of the items that concern the United Way in addition to providing immediate services is the preparation of younger people to avoid the trap of need in the first place. That means vocational training to obtain skills that are in demand and are fairly compensated for. While pondering this need the United Way decided that instead of creating their own training unit, why not partner with BOCES. BOCES has programs that have been developed over the years and the partnership works well.


United Way investments in the community are prioritized. Having limited resources means care must be taken in selecting programs. The entire budget for Long Island United Way is $18 million. Really not a lot of money when you consider the breadth and scope of the units demands. There are 38 people on staff and the net flowing to the programs is 88 cents of every dollar after paying staff, insurance, utilities, and all ancillary costs.


The agency has created other partnerships to deal with various problems. Project Warmth gets the support of National Grid and LIPA. National Grid will provide direct help as well advertising for the program in the bills. LIPA bills contain envelopes for contributions by the public to help support that program


We were reminded of the corporate sign-ups that in the past were directed at the regions largest employers. Grumman, NY Telephone LILCO were all big contributors through their very broad based employee enrollment plans. That still exists in many companies today, but some very large companies have shrunk or disappeared. Republic Aviation, and Fairchild, gone. Grumman is a shadow of its old size and these dramatic business changes has made funding needed for programs that much more difficult.


There is federal money that is dispersed through the United Way but the formulas for distributing those funds are convoluted and usually bear no semblance to need and logic. Areas that can certainly use the funds may not be getting it, while on the other hand an equally deserving group is. This is one of the problems that the United Way is hoping to make some progress on. This inequity is governed by the way an area is structured. Incorporated villages will do better than unincorporated areas.