While financial donations are crucial to making our work at the Guidance Center possible, there are several other ways to contribute to our lifesaving mission.
Case in point: our wonderful community partners at National Grid, an electricity, natural gas and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people across New York and Massachusetts.
Kathy Wisnewski, Long Island Regional Director, Community Customer Management, says that National Grid has a long and proud history of volunteerism. “We’ve always been dedicated to having an impact on the communities where we live and work,” she says.
Though National Grid’s volunteer efforts at nonprofits, parks, businesses and other locations have been going on for many years, the utility officially launched what it calls “Project C” in 2021.
According to Wisnewski, Project C is designed to go beyond the utility’s work in the energy sector and to inspire positive change, create positive impact in our neighborhoods and strengthen communities for years to come.
In addition to volunteerism, Project C focuses on four key priorities: clean energy and sustainability; workforce development; neighborhood investment and community engagement; and environmental justice and social equity.
A dedicated group of National Grid employees (pictured here with Guidance Center staff) did an amazing job sprucing up our Nature Nursery.
Inspiring Future Leaders
The Guidance Center’s partnership with National Grid began in February 2019, when we hosted a Career Day at Nassau B.O.C.E.S. High School in Wantagh.
Juan Santiago, National Grid Customer and Community Manager, won over the students, sharing that he wasn’t that interested in academics as a youth but found his way with a little faith and hard work. “Just because someone doesn’t take a traditional route doesn’t mean they are any less motivated,” he told the audience. “There are many paths to success, and if you put your hearts and minds into it, you can do anything!”
Our next collaboration took place that March, when National Grid employees Sarah Kahrs and Paula Gendreau generously donated their time and expertise to coach students in a Mock Interview Day at Nassau B.O.C.E.S.
“This event was an incredible experience,” says Kahrs. “It was so exciting to be able to take an active role in helping these young adults prepare for their future.”
Gendreau adds, “I was impressed by all the positive energy! I was fortunate to meet some great candidates, and it was my pleasure to be part of a wonderful day.”
As spring 2019 arrived, we welcomed seven National Grid employees to our Leeds Place in Westbury, where they spent the day planting and painting our signpost, giving the building a fresh, friendly look.
Fran DiLeonardo, Director, IT Customer Service Management at National Grid, enthusiastically put his all into the project. “It was another great day making a difference in the community that we live and work in,” says DiLeonardo. “It’s always rewarding to put the time aside and make it happen; that’s why we keep coming back!”
Volunteers Bring the Energy
The Guidance Center was chosen for Project C this year by National Grid’s Alexandra Paoli, who was the onsite leader for the Day of Service at our Nature Nursery at the Marks Family Right from the Start 0-3+ Center (see cover story). She had learned of our mission through her mother, Michele Paoli, who has been with the utility for 25 years. The mother-daughter team, along with nine other National Grid volunteers, worked cheerfully and with gusto during the day-long beautification project.
“My mother knew about the great work of the Guidance Center,” says Alexandra. “When she suggested it be one of the sites of our statewide volunteer initiative, it was a natural choice.”
Making a Difference
Wisnewski credits National Grid’s staff for their devotion to the neighborhoods in which they live, work and raise their families. “Many of our employees have their own relationships with organizations in the community. Year-round, they do such remarkable things and make a real difference.”
National Grid plans to be back at the Guidance Center in 2023 for the next Project C Day of Service. “We know mental health is so important to all in our community, and it’s key to have places like the Guidance Center to help families and children on Long Island,” says Wisnewski. “National Grid is dedicated to investing in our youth, and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to support the mental health of the next generation of leaders.”
We are so grateful to our friends at National Grid, and we’d love to partner with your company! Contact Lauren McGowan at 516-626-1971, ext. 320, to discover ways to help.
Main Photo: Our Leeds Place benefited from the wonderful volunteer efforts from National Grid.
Photo: Jana North, President of the UUCSR and Terry Bain, Member of UUCSR’s Board of Trustees.
When the pandemic struck in March 2020, the generous and caring members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR) wanted to provide immediate financial assistance to local organizations that were impacted by the crisis.
They asked congregation members to suggest their favorite nonprofits and then set up a committee to vet the nominees. Fortunately, many UUCSR members were familiar with the lifesaving work of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center.
After reaching out to us and hearing about our COVID-19 response efforts, UUCSR donated $10,000 to the Guidance Center and then an additional $50,000 in support of our work at a time when our services are needed more than ever. Over the course of their granting periods, UUCSR awarded $670,000 to a variety of local nonprofits to help them respond to the pandemic.
According to Terry Bain, a member of UUCSR’s Board of Trustees, the grant guidelines focused on food insecurity, homelessness, loss of parents or guardians, mental health and educational disadvantages.
“We wanted to address the areas where we thought the need would be the greatest, and in the beginning, everyone thought about food banks,” says Bain. “But by the time we got to the second round of funding, so many nonprofits were telling us about mental health issues that came out in their clients. PTSD was surfacing because the long, grinding time of the pandemic has caused such stress on everybody.”
Jana North, president of the UUCSR, says, “Of all the names that were proposed, your name rose to the top immediately. The Guidance Center is well known for doing this important work to provide services to families struggling with depression, anxiety and other issues related to COVID.”
Faith in Action
In describing UUCSR’s philanthropy efforts, North says, “We believe that with great wealth comes great responsibility. Part of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist is to put our faith into action, and with each grant we give, we see our faith going out into the community.”
North adds that UUs “believe strongly that we are only a small part of the world around us, and our principles respect and honor the worth and dignity of each individual. We are here on this Earth only for a short time, and in that time we want to take care of each other and the planet.”
A Multifaceted Congregation
UUCSR (uucsr.org), which has about 500 members, has been holding its Sunday services virtually since the beginning of the pandemic, though some recent services have provided an onsite, outdoor option.
The congregation is a very active one, with a variety of programs, committees and events, some open to the public. For example, on the second Friday night of each month, UUCSR presents “Soulful Sundown,” a musical collaboration between Rev. Jennifer L. Brower and the Cosmic Orchestra, often with special guest musicians.
Of its many opportunities for involvement, UUCSR features a Women’s Group, Social Justice Group, Green Sanctuary Committee and LGBTQ+ Group, among others. Activities range from yoga and quilting to book discussions and bridge.
“Unitarian Universalists believe in offering respect and dignity to everyone and this includes those in a mental health crisis situation,” says Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore, Lead Minister. “The congregation has long sought to support mental health, spiritual health, well-being and healing.”
In fact, the UUCSR Mental Health group holds programs and discussions to broaden general awareness and increase the understanding of mental health issues and sponsors a mental health support group which met at the congregation pre-pandemic. Additionally, the congregation has provided funding for training the police in mental health crisis intervention.
Kathy Rivera, the Guidance Center’s Executive Director, says, “We are so grateful to the members of UUCSR for choosing us as a grantee. Their awareness of the importance of the mental health of our children and families during the pandemic is clear evidence of their dedication to the community, and we are proud to call them one of our valued donors and partners.”
Bain of UUCSR’s board says, “It’s very challenging for parents to know where to turn for help. The fact that the Guidance Center is out there helping people is just remarkable and so needed.”
To learn more about supporting North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, contact Director of Development Lauren McGowan at (516) 626-1971, ext. 320.