SERVING COUNTY NORTH: Sterling, Montezuma, Brutus, and everywhere in between

For 75 years, and counting, your gift to the United Way of Cayuga County supports neighbors throughout all regions of our community. In a previous article, we shared an overview of how your dollars impact our friends in County North in the towns of Sterling, Victory, Ira, Conquest, Cato, Montezuma, Mentz, and Brutus. Today, we are sharing three stories from our Member Agencies who provide critical programming to our County North neighbors in the areas of HealthEducation, and Financial Stability. While you read, consider celebrating our milestone year with a $75 gift and ensure these programs can continue to provide essential programming in Cayuga County. 


Aurora of Central New York

Aurora of Central New York   |   Social Work Services for those with Sensory Loss

In 1974, Aurora of Central New York, then known as “The Lighthouse,” joined the United Way of Cayuga County family. This year marks 50 years of partnership with Aurora of CNY who has and continues to put your United Way dollars to work by providing services to individuals facing sensory loss—like your neighbor Judy Spingler of Weedsport.

Imagine your life as a hair stylist. You are an independent individual who drives to work every day to do something you love—cutting and styling hair for friends and neighbors.  Now imagine waking up totally blind the next day. For Judy, this was not something she had to imagine. In an instant, Judy’s whole life changed. This story could have ended right here. But it didn’t… Judy reached out to Aurora of CNY whose caring and supportive team provided her with the tools she needed to navigate her life including adaptive equipment so she could remain in her home. Additionally, Aurora of CNY connected Judy to a peer support group that she joined, easily making friends, and learning her way through the maze of vision loss with others who also struggle. Judy’s positive attitude, along with Aurora of CNY’s presence, makes it possible for her to enjoy a full life again—socializing, cooking, reading, traveling, and taking care of her home and family. Judy’s fortitude is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

Your gift to the United Way of Cayuga County supports the programs that Aurora of CNY provides to your neighbors with equipment such as strobe light doorbells for those with hearing loss or magnifiers for those losing their vision. Dollars also support social work services, advocacy,  social programs such as peer support groups, job training and placement, and most importantly… Your gift gives your neighbors their independence.


Confidential Help for Alcohol & Drugs

Confidential Help for Alcohol & Drugs   |   Prevention / Intervention

Throughout 2023, the team at Confidential Help for Alcohol & Drugs (CHAD) worked diligently to expand their prevention services for Cayuga County youth through collaboration. It has been proven that evidenced-based prevention programming and collaboration between school districts is a proactive approach to addressing substance use issues from an early age. CHAD now has programming available for all school districts within Cayuga County either directly or through a CO-SER with Cayuga Onondaga BOCES, which is a cooperative agreement to establish a shared service for one year between a BOCES and two or more school districts. For our students at the Cato-Meridian Central School District, their Prevention/Intervention programming through CHAD launched in early October.  

Preventative Counseling is used to stop problems before they start or to prevent substance abuse issues from worsening. For rural school districts, CHAD implements an evidence-based prevention program for grades 3-6. Since CHAD implemented their Preventative Counseling services at the Cato-Meridian Central School District, 11 students have been referred to the program. Four of those students have been admitted and are receiving Preventative Counseling through CHAD to help identify risks and protective factors and provide the skills and knowledge to prevent problem behavior while promoting healthy development. At the Cato-Meridian Central Schools, there has been concern, particularly for female adolescents, about increased vaping. To address these concerns, CHAD is in the early stages of an adult facilitated group to guide youth away from these unhealthy habits. 

CHAD shares that the “greatest success [their] funding from the United Way has provided is being able to create collaboration amongst school districts and being able to promote healthy habits within our county youth.” Your gift to the United Way of Cayuga County allows CHAD to help individuals facing substance use disorder reach their full potential by addressing multiple aspects of their well-being. 


Catholic C

Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes   |   Emergency Energy Assistance

More than 20% of the individuals and families served by Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes (CCFL) Emergency Energy Assistance program within Cayuga County are your neighbors to the North. One recent neighbor from the town of Cato, who we’ll call Sally, received assistance thanks to your gift.

At the end of last school year, Sally’s daughter could no longer care for her children and asked her mother to take them—without hesitation, Sally said yes. Her grandchildren arrived with just their clothes and a few stuffed animals. Immediately, Sally went to pantries and secondhand stores to gather the essentials and other items to make her grandchildren comfortable. Prior to the children’s arrival, Sally noticed that her grocery bill had gone up a little, but she didn’t realize how much everything would cost and was worried about the upcoming school year. Sally figured she could ‘catch up’ on bills… until her car failed inspection and required $800 in repairs. After so many hurdles, especially when she received the shutoff notice for her utilities, Sally was devastated, but she knew what to do—she called Catholic Charities. During the client in-take processes, CCFL realized that Sally qualified for another program that helped cover $200 on her utilities. CCFL reached out to the utility company and thanks to your United Way gift, they were also able to cover the remaining balance due. CCFL also connected Sally to other agencies and programs for back-to-school needs as well as referring her to their Community Clothing Center.

Your United Way, funded Member Agencies, and fellow community nonprofits are committed to working together to serve our neighbors, like Sally. While the Community Clothing Center is based in Wayne County and not supported by this United Way, CCFL has seen an increase in the number of Cayuga County residents, particularly from County North, who have turned to this resource.


When you give to the United Way of Cayuga County, your dollars stay here in our community supporting our neighbors throughout the city and all 23 towns. In Cayuga County there are 32,392 households—if just 2,000 of those households make a gift of $75 before March 22nd, we will reach our $750,000 goal!

Support the Next 100 Years of Living United and give today!

Article written by United Way of Cayuga County staff   |   Friday, January 19, 2024