This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Abraham House in Utica, New York. The organization’s mission is to offer the terminally ill a secure and loving home, free of charge, while providing them physical, emotional, and spiritual support. The Abraham House partners with Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. to provide their guests a variety of services, including oversight, comprehensive medical care plans, social workers, and bereavement services. The organization continually strives to provide both compassion and the comfort of a surrogate family to every individual in their care, as well as their families.
Lindsey Johnson ‘20 and Dylann McLaughlin ‘18 work with Utica Children’s Museum to increase museum’s financial stabilityBy Upstate Institute on September 15, 2017
The Utica Children’s Museum is a small non-profit in the heart of the Bagg’s Square district of Utica, devoted to supporting every child’s natural curiosity to learn through hands-on, play-based exploration. With a focus on STEAM education and tactile learning, the museum provides an enriching environment for young children from central New York to grow as independent and critical thinkers. Though the museum suffers from chronic funding issues, it remains a beloved institution in the Mohawk Valley and is making strives toward financial stability. Recently, it was chosen by the Class of 2017 members of the Konosioni Senior Honor Society at Colgate University to receive $2,500 from their Madison County Gives fund to put toward creating a new Sensory Zone on the first floor of the museum. This is one component of the museum’s initiative to incorporate STEAM programs into the learning experience of young visitors.
The Young Scholars Program gives high-achieving students in the Utica City School District the academic, cultural, and social-emotional support needed to reach their full potential as scholars and community members. This program is designed and staffed by education professionals who motivate a diverse and talented pool of students to stay in school, earn a New York State Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and pursue post-secondary education. Since its inception in 1993, 93% of Young Scholars have graduated high school and 88% have entered college.
This summer I’m interning with the Legal Aid Society of Mid New York (LASMNY) through the Upstate Institute. LASMNY is a not-for-profit legal services group that provides civil (i.e. non-criminal) legal help to low-income residents of thirteen counties throughout upstate New York. They have a wide array of practice areas to serve the legal needs of their low-income clients, including consumer protection, housing, education, access to health care, and domestic violence. They deliver advice over a helpline, represent individual clients, conduct clinics and engage in impact litigation. Put together, these programs help thousands of people across upstate New York each year.
The Madison County Department of Public Health has a variety of programs aimed at protecting and enhancing the health of our community. I worked under the Environmental Health division, where we work towards a healthy environment for all. On any given day, workers may be collecting water samples, following up on a report of raw sewage, verifying safety plans at children’s camps, or responding to concerned residents’ calls regarding restaurants. My project was designed at the intersection of water quality and wastewater treatment.
This summer, I am working at the Partnership for Community Development (PCD) as an Upstate Institute Fellow. PCD is an economic development nonprofit which serves the Hamilton area. They work closely with the Village of Hamilton, the Town of Hamilton, and Colgate University to ensure sustainable community-oriented change, success for our small businesses, and economic vitality. PCD brings Hamilton together through community-based projects in many different ways.
Food access is a concern in Madison County, as it is in many rural areas. Some residents participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). However, these participants cannot use their benefits everywhere. Residents cannot redeem them at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market or at almost any farms in the county, even though there is a process to make this happen. So while we are surrounded by farms, which sell meat, vegetables, dairy, and other produce, community members still struggle to access local food. On the producer side of this issue, trying to accept SNAP is not easy. That is why, among other barriers, it is difficult for farmers to go through the process of accepting SNAP.
For the Good is a community organization based in the heart of Utica, NY. In 2002, C.E.O Cassandra Harris-Lockwood started the nonprofit with the intention of restoring Utica’s Community Action Agency. Since then the organization has grown to accommodate two community gardens opening in 2008, an independent newspaper, and various youth programming such as the Study Buddy Club.
This summer I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work as an intern at the Oneida Community Mansion House. The Oneida Community Mansion House (OCMH) is a non-profit historic house museum that shares the history of the Oneida Community. The Oneida Community was a socialist Utopian group that was active from 1848-1881. They are known for their social practices, which differed greatly from their contemporaries: the Community shared all property in common, believed that women and men were of comparable standing, all men and women in the Community were spouses to one another, and that men were responsible for preventing conception. OCMH also strives to use the story of the Oneida Community as a platform to discuss pressing social issues that still face audiences today. To accomplish this dual mission of sharing history and questioning modernity, OCMH offers guided tours, educational programs, and special events to the public.
This summer I was granted the opportunity to intern for the Madison County branch of the Cornell Cooperative Extension as an Upstate Institute fellow for the Agricultural Economic Development program. Cooperative Extension’s role in the community is wide reaching, as there are several facets to the responsibilities of the different Madison County programs. The mission statement reads, “The Cornell Cooperative Extension educational system enables people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work.” Programs run include 4H, agribusiness outreach, and Open Farm Day. The Agricultural Economic Development office of the extension is vital to the agriculture market of Madison county by creating market opportunities for farmers and encouraging value-added enterprises. The secondary objective of the office is to maintain a sizeable arable land base in the county to encourage future economic growth in the agricultural sector.
This summer I am lucky to have the opportunity to work as an intern for the Chenango United Way through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School. The United Way is a global nonprofit organization that works to strengthen communities in three areas: health, income, and education. The United Way in Norwich serves townships in Chenango County, fundraising and then reallocating donations to the most robust local nonprofits and programs. The United Way is unusual in that it does not serve one specific population or problem. Instead, the organization focuses on entire communities and addresses the ever-changing issues that a town or village may face within the three focus areas. Although it is most known for its work in fundraising, the United Way also helps organize community efforts to tackle big problems. By developing community impact teams for health, education and income, the United Way unifies the talent of community leaders to discuss and address area-specific issues. The United Way also works with other community groups, such as the Building a Healthy Community Coalition and the Housing Counsel Coalition, to work on issues like high rates of obesity, widespread substance abuse, persistent homelessness and insufficient affordable housing options. Rather than just giving money to different worthy causes, the United Way is an active participant in every step in long process of community improvement.