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Amid a tough year, volunteers make SEFA charitable campaign possible

By KATE MOSTACCIO

September 10, 2021 — You’ve heard of them before – the Salvation Army, Direct Relief, Feeding America, the United Way. You probably praise the work they do to feed, clothe or house the homeless, disabled or disadvantaged.

Do you want to help make that work possible? There’s an easy way you can participate, available through your employment with New York state, either as a donor or a volunteer.

The New York State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA), in partnership with the United Way, allows PEF members to support hundreds of organizations of their choosing through payroll deductions. Fellow PEF members and coworkers at your jobsite are ready and able to answer questions and help you pledge your support.

“It’s a wonderful organization and they do really great work throughout the whole state,” said Division 167 Council Leader Patricia Moran, a SEFA volunteer since 1990. “There is a need out there. We’re very blessed having jobs. Some people have lost their jobs because of the pandemic and we need to do whatever we can do to help each other.”

An internship through United Way 34 years ago exposed Moran to the need for volunteers at organizations that exist to help those in need. As a coordinator for the Jim Kelly End Zone campaign, where Kelly would donate money to kids with every touchdown he scored, Moran saw firsthand the importance of charitable organizations.

“Working there, I saw a lot,” Moran said. “I had a comfortable life, but when you worked at the United Way you saw so many vulnerable people. Whether they are individuals with disabilities, the homeless, families, the United Way worked with a range of groups. I saw the difference these funds given through things like SEFA make and how much that money can do.”

During these challenging times, Moran said food banks, city missions and charitable organizations are more important than ever. There are charities for nearly every interest, from prison programs where inmates train service dogs to funding for union members who go on strike.

“What I like about SEFA is that you can pick where you want your donations to go,” Moran said. “I always stress that to employees here. Maybe you had a child born at a children’s hospital who had challenges your family needed help with, so you want to give back to the hospital. You can choose the hospital. You can choose your local girls and boys clubs or help feed families struggling to put food on their tables. Where your heart is, your contributions go toward that.”

During the pandemic, reaching out to potential donors is different than past years, where volunteers could approach coworkers at the worksite and where many were in a financial position to help. This year, Moran, whose Division includes members at Western New York DDSO, Western New York DDRO and Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center, says a lot of soliciting of donations happened by email and some people faced hardships preventing them from giving or giving less than in the past.

“People who give really want to give, they will find a way,” she said. “Sometimes it might be difficult for some staff. Maybe they’re doing OK, but their spouse may have financial issues or lost employment. Donations can be a small amount, even a dollar a paycheck. It’s not the amount, but the giving. All of us together makes the difference.”

The SEFA campaign kicked off September 1 this year. If you would like to make a pledge, click here.