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We did it ... and then some!

After setting a goal of $90,000 at the start of the Community Works campaign in November, the final total is in. The Vassar community not only reached its goal, but surpassed it by raising over $102,577! This year marked a record number of donations, all of which went directly to 10 local not-for-profit organizations.

"Such a contribution makes it possible for Dutchess Outreach to be able to grow to meet urgent and emerging needs," says the organization's executive director Brian Riddell, adding that the contributions also help nonprofits like Dutchess Outreach continue to offer and expand programs like the Lunch Box, which has provided 61,410 free meals over the past year to the unemployed, poor shift workers, the homeless, and those unable to work. Funding also makes it possible for nearly 40 children in after school programs to have a daily hot meal, and assists people with HIV/AIDS and their dependents. During the last year, the organization's emergency fund distributed over $70,000 to help people in need of medicine, to prevent evictions, or to pay for utilities.

The campaign also greatly impacted New Horizons, an agency that recently relocated to a larger location. According to executive director Regis Obijiski, "Vassar College's gift comes at an exciting time at New Horizons and will enable us to provide increased services to those we assist." Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, executive director of the Children's Media Project, also expressed how the funds help boost their various programs. "Community Works is supporting every aspect of CMP's services," she says. "Truly, thanks to Community Works, we are able to serve our community."

This year's campaign ran for a shorter period of time than in past years and focused on a list of 10 recipients. During that time, program directors visited campus to spread awareness of the local needs, and the college community visited the various organizations. The campaign received a major boost when, at the end, a member of the community stepped forward to make an anonymous challenge grant, promising to match up to $1,200 of donations made in a single day. This resulted in a tremendous outpouring, and the campaign hit an all-time record, raising over $20,000 in a single day.

"I think we have a very generous community on campus, and that's what makes this possible," says Jeffrey Schneider, associate professor of German and this year's director of Community Works. "I think there is a much greater awareness of local needs and the organizations working to meet them. It's a wonderful feeling to be part of such a generous community!"

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, May 1, 2008