SUNY New Paltz recognized with SEFA awards

The New York State Employees Federal Appeal (SEFA) celebrated a successful year of fundraising with a breakfast reception and award ceremony at the College Terrace at SUNY New Paltz on Wednesday, May 21.

The SEFA program enables all New York State employees to donate money to local, regional, and national charities of their choice by way of payroll deductions. In 2013-14, SEFA donated $7 million to community programming statewide.

“It’s not a state effort – it’s an individual effort,” said Sheila O’Connor, coordinator of Sullivan/Ulster SEFA. “It’s individuals giving as generously as they can. … Getting people to participate is a big step.”

SUNY New Paltz took home the award for Best Overall Campaign, 301+ Employees, for raising more than $36,000 for charities. An honorary plaque was presented to President Donald P. Christian and members of the SUNY New Paltz SEFA Committee (campaign manager Robin Cohen-LaValle, Sarah Roberson, Lorna Platt, and Geralyn Terrone).

The Department of Environmental Conservation took home two awards: Best Overall Campaign, 51-300 Employees, and Greatest Percentage Increase. The Best Overall Campaign, 1-50 Employees, went to the Department of Education, ACCES VR, and Shawangunk Correctional Facility won the Greatest Increase in Participation award.

Dan Shapley, the membership/events manager for environmental nonprofit Riverkeeper, addressed the audience to give concrete examples of the projects his organization has undertaken as a direct result of monetary contributions like those from SEFA, such as the recent resolution of a case preserving New Paltz’s right to protect wetlands; a volunteer effort of 1,900 people cleaning up trash along the shorelines of the Hudson River and its tributaries; and water testing to determine which rivers around the Hudson Valley are safe for swimming.

“With things being as tight as they are, it speaks volumes,” Shapley said of SEFA’s commitment to fundraising.

The event concluded with a raffle drawing, where the top three winners received Visa gift cards as well as the chance to donate the proceeds of their raffle sales to a SEFA agency of their choice, and a benediction from SUNY New Paltz Campus Chaplain the Rev. Dianna Smith.