Compassion In Action - Design Your Own Handbag


Compassion In Action - Design Your Own Handbag

Compassion In Action


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,

Chris Burke

Chief Executive Officer

If you would like to share your time

and talent with Unity House, please

call Anne at 274-2607 x254.

Our Volunteers...


“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.”

Street Ministry

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

and families.

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.

Domestic Violence

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.


“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

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

cooperative employment

agreements with three new

companies: Sam’s Club, PetSmart

and SEFCU to place mentally

disabled adults in jobs.


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

Jack Conroy

Andrew Clemente

Lise Bradley, D.D.S.

Jack Conroy

John DonVito

Timothy J. Elliott, PLLC

Emily Hom

Allison Newman

James C. Nickens, Jr.

Rev. Donald Ophals

Nina Pattison

Marsha Ras

Frank Sarratori

Susan Thrasher, MD

Elizabeth Kirby Walsh

Christopher Burke

Chief Executive Officer

Karla Digirolamo

Chief Operating Officer

Unity House

Summary of Profit and Loss

for the 12 months ending December 31, 2007


Government Funding $7,828,278

Program Revenue 7,674,713

Grants 153,455

Contributions 324,015

Contributions, Designated 124,846

United Way 57,039

Realized/Unrealized gain(loss) 24,795

on investments

Investment Income 42,286

Gain on sale property and equipment 0



Unity Sunshine



Housing Support




Unity Sunshine Programs $7,584,035

Housing Support Services 5,881,564

Domestic Violence 1,931,516







Street Ministry 666,450



Surplus/(Loss) $165,861


33 Second Street Troy, NY 12180-3960 p: 518.274.2607

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