Dear friends and colleagues,
Why is Community Works so crucial? Consider that in 2008 the City of Poughkeepsie population living below the poverty line grew to more than 22%, nearly twice the national rate and three times the overall rate for Dutchess County. And that was only in the first year of our continuing recession. Today nearly 80% percent of students in the city’s schools qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches.
Many of the ten non-profits that Community Works will support in the coming year provide urgent help for people who are struggling the most. But looked at together these agencies also work hard to help all people live healthy, respected, and hopeful lives (read more about the agencies):
- Celebrating Community (John Flowers)
- Children’s Media Project
- Community Family Development
- Domestic Violence Services at Family Services
- Dutchess County SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
- Dutchess Outreach
- GLSEN Hudson Valley (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network)
- Hudson River Housing
- Poughkeepsie Farm Project
- R.E.A.L. Skills Network (Relationship-Empowerment-Affirmation-Leadership)
Our Community Works giving brings about a considerable impact. Since 2001 we have pooled roughly $1million for dozens of local agencies, and every cent continues to go directly to their services because Vassar covers all of the campaign’s administrative expenses.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that Community Works takes a stand on our principles of inclusion and tolerance. Until 2000 Vassar supported the Boy Scouts of America through the United Way of Dutchess County, but that year the Boy Scouts won a Supreme Court case to continue excluding gay men as group leaders. Because this exclusion violates Vassar’s non-discrimination policy, we withdrew from the United Way and started Community Works.
With this history in mind it’s heartening to see how Community Works has become far more than a way to contribute money. It has deepened Vassar’s relationship with the Poughkeepsie community, because we engage directly with people who make so much difference in our community.
You can make your tax-deductible gift via payroll deduction, credit card, or check. Download and return the form or log on to the campaign’s website. On behalf of the selected agencies and the Community Works Campaign committee, I thank you for your support.
Chair, 2013/14 Community Works Campaign
Associate Professor of Computer Science