Compassion In Action
2007 ANNUAL REPORT
College volunteers from Rensselaer
Unity House is dedicated to
enhancing the quality of life for...
People Living in Poverty
Adults with Mental Illness
Victims of Domestic Violence
Children with Developmental Delays and their families
People Living with HIV/AIDS
and others whose needs can effectively be met by Unity House services and philosophy.
Unity House provides direct service and works toward social justice.
We help individuals identify their strengths and needs,
draw upon their abilities and access community resources.
We educate, collaborate with others, and advocate to influence public policy
and create awareness of the people we serve and the issues they face.
Plug Power Volunteers (left to right) Front Row: Rod Kindler, Jennifer Kazmierczak,
Teal Vivacqua. Second Row: Bruce Bagstad, Kevin Mease, Sandra MacCue, Rick Mason,
Bridgid O’Connor, Donna Ranalli, Jodie Wilson, and Mary Jean Yon.
A Message from Chris Burke, CEO
Compassion is an unspoken connection that links us all. I am filled with gratitude for our 315 employees
who show compassion to the thousands who rely on Unity House for food, shelter, clothing, personal
safety, emotional support, education, and employment opportunities. This support is recognized,
honored and bolstered by more than 60 volunteers who
donate their time and talents to Unity House.
For example, every Friday before he goes to work, Eric
Anderson picks up our weekly allotment of food from
the Regional Food Bank to stock the shelves at our
Street Ministry Food Pantry. For 15 years, come rain,
sleet or snow, he makes a weekly delivery so we can
assist thousands of families that depend on our food
pantry for sustenance.
Volunteers led by Carol Brinkman at SEFCU run an
annual carnival for our Unity Sunshine students. Other
volunteers clean and groom the playgrounds at our
Sunshine Programs, getting them ready for children
eager to enjoy spring. Some volunteers read to the
children at Unity Sunshine, or rock infants in our
always-busy infant room. Others decorate and staff
Santaʼs Workshop so parents living in poverty can pick
out Christmas gifts for their children at no cost.
l to r: Chris Burke, Chief Executive Officer of Unity House & Bruce
Clarkson-Hendrix, HIV/AIDS education and outreach program
coordinator volunteer at one of our five community residences.
Our free weekly medical clinic for women and children in our domestic violence program is run exclusively by
volunteers from Albany Medical College. This clinic provides urgent and preventive care to women and
children who often have a wide range of needs and lack access to doctors. More than once, our volunteers
have made life-saving diagnoses!
Corporate volunteers and service groups are a big support as we improve our facilities. Local Girl Scout
Troops planted flowers in the back yard at our domestic violence shelter, raised money to renovate the
shelterʼs playroom, and also assembled personal care kits. When we acquired our third Unity Sunshine
program, dozens of volunteers from Plug Power painted the new classrooms in bright aquatic colors.
It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to a few of the many Unity House volunteers. The next several
pages are dedicated to the people who turn compassion into action every day and have allowed me to
re-imagine the notion of giving.
Yours in service,
Chief Executive Officer
If you would like to share your time
and talent with Unity House, please
call Anne at 274-2607 x254.
“I am proud to collect for the Basics for Babies
program and feel compelled to share the story of
Unity House and the significant role it plays in
our community with family, friends and Albany
Medical Center colleagues.”
In Rensselaer County, over 17,000 residents live in poverty, of which
16% are children under the age of 18. Over 15,000 Rensselaer County
residents have no health insurance and that includes 3,000 children.
With these alarming figures, it is imperative that Unity House deliver
programs that proactively address the needs of these individuals
Every spring, Theresa runs a drive at Albany Medical College,
collecting diapers, formula and baby food for parents coming to Unity
House for assistance. In the fall, she runs an Adopt a Family program,
providing holiday gifts for dozens of children whose families are
receiving services from Unity House.
Even more impressive, eight years ago, Theresa started a weekly free
medical clinic at Unity House for survivors
of domestic violence. Coordinated by
volunteer doctors and a nurse, Theresa
makes sure the clinic has all the supplies
it needs, securing grants for medical
equipment and upgrades.
In 2007, 40% of the aggravated assaults in the city of Troy were
domestic. Unity House Domestic Violence Program is part of a
successful collaboration amongst the Troy Police Department, Police
Court, Family Court, Probation and the Department of Social Services
(DSS). With staff co-located at each of these sites, we help victims obtain
orders of protection, accompany police on calls and work with DSS to
move families to safety.
“I got a call some 20 years ago to go to this house and fix a refrigerator. When
I arrived, I discovered it was the Unity House emergency domestic violence
shelter. I didn’t charge them for the repair, just a small fee for parts. Over the
past two decades, I have continued to fix their appliances whenever they call
and only charge them for parts. It just seems like the right thing to do.”
Housing Support Services
Over 61% of people living without housing in Rensselaer County have a
mental illness. Unity House offers safe housing and transportation to
individuals managing mental illness or HIV/AIDS. An overwhelming majority
(92%) of adults in our mental health housing programs tell us the lynchpin
of their recovery is the coordination of case management services
organized through Unity House. For each dollar invested in housing, the
community saves twice this amount by avoiding the added cost of
emergency hospitalizations, corrections, and shelter stays.
Owais, as a high school student, began coordinating a project to bring
meals and food to our five community residences. The Muslim Soup
Kitchen Project (MSKP) serves Muslims and non-Muslims alike by
providing specially prepared meals on a regular basis, which our residents
thoroughly enjoy and appreciate.
“We are taught that helping out your neighbor and loving
your neighbor are all part of being a believer in God. We
grew up in this community and the best way to thank it
is by giving back through service.”
Unity Sunshine Program
Our Unity Sunshine program operates two nationally accredited
preschool programs in the City of Troy. Only 8% of preschools
across the nation enjoy this recognition. Our early intervention
program provides physical, speech and other therapies that often
result in children needing fewer special education services, being
retained less often, and beginning kindergarten on par with their
Gary Hall has volunteered for the Unity Sunshine program for 28
years with wife Edie as Mrs. Claus. Gary and Edie have two
special needs children, Doug and Brian, who volunteer by
delivering lunches to Sunshine sites, including the building where
they were once students.
GARY, EDIE & BRIAN HALL
“One day, while at the domestic violence shelter as Santa, a little girl said, ‘Santa, I
can’t make the tears stop falling.’ I talked with her about her family situation and
when she stopped crying she asked for a Barbie doll. I brought her one the next day.
To see the joy on her face was a miracle. The children’s smiles keep me coming back.”
Program Highlights from 2007
Helping People Meet Basic Needs:
Street Ministry provides food, clothing, job coaching and other
necessities. In 2007, we:
• advocated for people living in poverty and distributed over $137,823
worth of groceries and $12,000 worth of baby food, formula & diapers;
• sent 1,795 residents to work and school wearing new and gently used
clothing from the Unique Boutique.
In 2007, we established
agreements with three new
companies: Sam’s Club, PetSmart
and SEFCU to place mentally
disabled adults in jobs.
DENISE JACON CHURCH
U-Watch Court Monitoring Volunteer
Promoting Safety, Rebuilding Lives:
Domestic Violence Program
Unity House offers victims of domestic violence in Rensselaer County the
services they need to reclaim their lives. In 2007, we:
• provided emergency shelter to 108 women and 52 children, filling us to capacity every
night in 2007. We extended housing support & case management to 77 women and 71
children in their own new, safe apartments;
• supported nearly 500 women and their children with counseling, advocacy, case
management, legal representation and employment and training services;
• answered the 24-hour hotline 5,136 times to
provide information on emergency shelter,
domestic violence and safety planning.
Educating & Caring for Children:
Unity Sunshine Programs
At Unity Sunshine, children grow and thrive by learning the reading, language
and social skills that make them successful. In 2007, we:
• cared for 228 children in three child care locations throughout the City of Troy;
• provided 441 children from 34 school districts and four counties with special
education, speech, physical, and occupational therapy from our qualified staff of
157 education professionals;
• raised $50,000 in private dollars to send 120 children living in poverty to the
Unity House traveling summer day camp.
Eight years of leading volunteers
& sponsoring the SEFCU Carnival
In 2007, we maintained five
community residence homes for
50 adults. Our crisis bed was
occupied 365 days - saving
$438,000 in inpatient
psychiatric hospitalization costs.
Promoting Recovery and Independence:
Housing Support Services
Unity House offers housing to adults living with a mental illness,
overcoming a chemical dependency or HIV/AIDS. In 2007, we:
• provided safe apartments in the community with case management
services to 240 individuals and their families. Accrued an average cost
savings of $21,000 per participant in the first year of enrollment;
• transported people to over 40,000 trips to day treatment programs,
doctor and counseling appointments, employment and training
opportunities and other social events.
Unity House Volunteer Board
At the helm of Unity House is our Board of Directors who not only serve as dedicated
volunteers, but are among our greatest supporters. Collectively, board members work together
to strengthen the Unity House mission and ensure adequate
resources are available to meet the needs of those we serve.
“I continue to volunteer on the Board of Directors because of
the values Unity House embodies. Whenever we make a
decision we often ask questions like, ‘Is this decision ethical
Does it honor our mission Are we truly serving our
consumers’ While challenging, these questions provide a
greater sense of purpose.”
Unity House Board Member since 1993
“Twenty years ago, when I moved to the Capital Region, I
was immediately impressed with the quality of care delivered
to people through Unity House. The variety of programs
Unity House offers assist some of the neediest people in our
area and those who are unable to receive help from anywhere
else. The compassion of Unity House is immediately felt and
is, what I believe, its greatest asset.”
2005-07 Unity House Board President,
Board member since 1997
2007-08 Unity House Board of Directors
Karen Carlson, President
Kathleen Koval, 1st Vice President
Gary Johnson, 2nd Vice President
Michael Lipschultz, Treasurer
Jerilee Beaudoin, Secretary
Michael Roche, Jr., Member at Large
David Ellis, Ex Officio
Lise Bradley, D.D.S.
Timothy J. Elliott, PLLC
James C. Nickens, Jr.
Rev. Donald Ophals
Susan Thrasher, MD
Elizabeth Kirby Walsh
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Summary of Profit and Loss
for the 12 months ending December 31, 2007
Government Funding $7,828,278
Program Revenue 7,674,713
Contributions, Designated 124,846
United Way 57,039
Realized/Unrealized gain(loss) 24,795
Investment Income 42,286
Gain on sale property and equipment 0
Unity Sunshine Programs $7,584,035
Housing Support Services 5,881,564
Domestic Violence 1,931,516
Street Ministry 666,450
MAKING LIFE BETTER
33 Second Street Troy, NY 12180-3960 p: 518.274.2607 www.unityhouseny.org