April 2015

Unity House cordially invites everyone to the annual board/award dinner on April 27!

Download the invitation HERE.

February 2015

Help Unity House raise money on February 17 – eat at Auburn Buffalo Wild Wings and we get 10%!

Click this link to download the voucher:

January 2015

Two Unity House staff teams are participating in the indoor volleyball league put on by the Auburn YMCA this winter. Running from November through January, ten teams total play against each other for tournament bragging rights. The two Unity House teams, the UH Crunch and the UH Smash, are hoping to place in the finals.

Promotion of such activities amongst staff encourages fitness and offers a chance for co-workers to interact and have fun outside of the workplace.

October 2014

Unity Employment Services in Geneva is marking a milestone in 2014: 20 years of helping individuals with disabilities get and keep jobs.

Unity House began offering employment services in Ontario County in 1994. The first offices were located on West Washington Street in Geneva. At that time, there was a full-time director, a job developer, a part-time secretary, and some part-time job coaches serving 13 consumers.

In 1997, the Geneva site, in conjunction with Wayne County Behavioral Health, opened an affirmative business called Finger Lakes Domestic Cleaning. UES supplied the equipment and the consumers to clean in various locations, mostly residential. Job coaches transported the workers to the job sites and then provided coaching to ensure the cleaning was done well. An office was acquired on Nye Road where the cleaning equipment and supplies were kept and was the hub of this business. This location is now the site of Unity House’s independent housing office in Wayne County.

The Geneva site relocated in 2009 to its current location at 122 N. Genesee Street in the former American Can Building. The staff has grown to six full time positions, one part time, and one relief coach. In 20 years, the office has gone from serving 13 consumers to more than 70 individuals.

Photo of current Geneva UES employees:
Seated left to right: Kelly Hale, Charlene Van Horn, Loraine Gianfrate
Standing left to right: Shawna Jovanelli, Charlie Borden, Sandie Case, Dan Velte
Missing: Ciara Fischette

October 2014

Health Flaire is right around the corner! Join Unity House for a community-wide health and wellness fair on October 22.

See the full schedule at http://www.unityhouse.com/news-press.html

September 2014

The 3rd annual Unity House Challenge put 11 teams through their paces!

The agency sponsored its 3rd annual Unity House Challenge on September 25. We were blessed with beautiful weather again. Eleven teams of four, plus a number of volunteers and cheerleaders, headed out to the Throop Fire Hall for the afternoon event. The purpose of the Unity House Challenge is to promote wellness and exercise, and foster camaraderie between employees.

This year’s challenges included Large and In Charge, Military Muscle, NOT Child’s Play, and Out of Bounds. Teams made their way through each obstacle in rotation, scoring points and having fun along the way. The final contest: a chili cook-off! All participants enjoyed the home-made chili and corn bread while waiting to learn which teams had aced the course. Board members Cindy Wilcox and Ken Knight served as chili judges.

The 2014 overall winners were “Call Us What You Want,” who dominated in three of the five competitions. The team is comprised of Kim Dagnesi, Jon Lamanna, Tiffanie McLean, and Paul Stratton of Wright Avenue. Congratulations!

Bravo to ALL of the participating teams and many thanks to the Challenge volunteers who pulled off another excellent event!


September 2014

Help Unity House raise money for Tompkins County programs by eating at the Ithaca Chili’s on September 17!

Click this link to download the voucher:

August 2014

2014 Staff Appreciation Picnic

As it does every year, the Unity House Staff Appreciation Committee put on a delightful afternoon picnic for all employees. About 100 staff members (1/3) gathered at Dewey’s Party House in Seneca Falls on August 22 for the festivities. This year’s theme was “We Are Family.”

Colorful balloons decorated the great covered outdoor space, and the food buffet line was delicious and unending. Music by DJ Dale kept things lively, as did games such as “Let’s Make A Deal” and “Family Feud.” Executive Director Liz Smith presented longevity awards, recognizing those who have worked at the agency for 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years. The lists were long; Unity House is most fortunate to have such dedicated staff!

Many thanks to the Staff Appreciation Committee for their hard work organizing another great summer picnic: Amy Santobianco, Renee Post, Candi Saxman, Doreen Wagner, Elspeth Peterson, Laura Thompson, Kate Speckin, Pattie Park, and Kim Zimmer.



April 2014

Calling All Artists!

Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. is introducing a new fine arts and crafts festival this summer. Art Flaire is scheduled for Saturday, June 14 from 10:00am – 4:00pm outside on the beautiful park-like grounds of the Case Mansion and First Presbyterian Church in Auburn. We are seeking high-end artisans to exhibit and sell their artwork during the show. Booth space is $60 for a 10’ x 10’ spot. Applications with three representative photos of artwork and non-refundable payment are due (postmarked) by Wednesday, April 30. Acceptance/non-acceptance letters will be mailed by May 9.

All proceeds from Art Flaire will benefit Unity House. Show information, art standards, and the application form are available online: www.unityhouse.com. For more information, email artflaire@unityhouse.com or call 315-253-6227 x313. Art Flaire will become an annual event – we hope you’ll join us for this inaugural festival!

March 2014

Unity House sponsored three foursomes for the United Way of Cayuga County’s annual mini golf tournament on March 19. Held indoors at the Holiday Inn in Auburn, the event attracts hundreds of locals as a fundraiser for the United Way. Unity House’s three teams – the Sultans of Swing, the Mighty Minions, and the Green Gang – had a lot of fun for a good cause.

Every year, the United Way teams up a for-profit business with one of the non-profit agencies that they support. Unity House was matched with the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce on lucky hole #13 this year.

Many thanks to the United Way of Cayuga County for all they do in our community!



February 7, 2014

Go Red for Women

Unity House wore red on February 7 to help save women’s lives. In collaboration with the local chapter of the American Heart Association, all employees were encouraged to wear red to raise awareness of the 11th annual National Wear Red Day.

At Auburn Day Hab, consumers and staff got in the spirit by putting on their best red clothing and enjoying red Jell-O in support of Wear Red Day.

National Wear Red Day brings women together in the fight against their No. 1 killer – heart disease. Funds raised nationwide support swifter action for women’s health, increased funding, and more research, all for the ultimate goal of saving women’s lives.

November 19, 2013

Ithaca Chili’s will donate 10% of food sales with voucher

Unity House has partnered with Chili’s Restaurant in Ithaca for a fundraiser. On Wednesday, December 4 from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, Chili’s at 608 S. Meadow St., Ithaca, will donate 10% of all sales from any guest that presents a fundraising voucher. Simply print the voucher below and present it when paying your bill. And please share them with friends and family – anyone can participate!

Afterwards, Unity House will receive a donation check for 10% from Chili’s for sales from the day. Eat well and support Unity House – the more meals our friends purchase on December 4, the larger the donation made by Chili’s.

Click this link to download the voucher:

October 2013

Unity House Director of Marketing & Development Kelly Buck received the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Chairman’s Award for Excellence. The award was presented at the Chamber’s 104th annual dinner on October 16; Kelly was the co-chair for the event. Kelly is finishing her second three-year term on the Chamber board. The award was given “in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the Chamber of Commerce and Cayuga County.” During her six years on the board, Kelly has also served on the Advocacy Committee, the Member Services committee, and as chair of the Phyllis Goldman Encouragement Award committee.


September 2013

For the first time in several years, Unity House fielded a co-ed softball team this fall. The strategic plan Development Committee coordinated this effort to encourage exercise, fun and camaraderie amongst UH staff and to help build awareness of Unity House out in the community.

The Auburn Parks & Recreation Department manages the 5-week co-ed softball program every year. The league consists of 10 teams in two divisions, and games are played at the softball complexes at Casey Park school. Unity House fielded a team of 16; each game, five women and five men were required to be on the field. Most players were from Auburn but several traveled up from Tompkins County to participate.

We ended the season with a 3-2 record, had a lot of fun, and are ready for more next year!

Camp Casowasco

This year’s Camp Casowasco theme was the groovy 70's. About 55 hip camper cats spent their time making cool peace necklaces, jivin’ to the Grease soundtrack, and just chillin’ with their friends. There was a funky time lunch party on Wednesday afternoon with more than 100 in attendance. Even our cool cat Day Hab guys and gals came along to get down with our peeps.

The final evening’s awesome event had our groovy campers boogy-oogy-oogying to the hits of the 70's. They enjoyed snacking on some fine cheese and chocolate fondue, and the fave part of the evening: breaking the hip hap'n piñata. Can you dig it?

Everyone had a far out time and we can't wait to see what theme pops up next summer! Catch ya later!

August 2013

Unity House employees enjoyed their annual Staff Appreciation Picnic on August 9. The event was held at the Party House in Seneca Falls, and about 100 staff were present. This year’s theme was Halloween – everyone was urged to come in costume, and the games and décor had a spooky flair.

“This is one of the few times that we get to come together outside of work to relax, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company,” said Executive Director Liz Smith. “It’s really important to do this – it gives us a chance to thank our employees for the wonderful job they do for the agency and for our consumers.”

At the picnic every year, employees are honored for their longevity on the job. This year, 57 were recognized for being with Unity House five or more years. Darlene Podolak, the senior-most staff member acknowledged at the picnic, has worked for the agency for 20 years.

Liz continued: “Every picnic is different from the last. The planning committee clearly loves what they do, enjoys working together, and really puts time and creative effort into the music, food, and games. I look forward to it every summer.”

June 2013

Unity House employees “walked the walk” on June 18 when they participated in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge. Twenty-eight agency staff members carpooled to Syracuse for the annual 3.5-mile run/walk event open to groups of employees from organizations within the business and public sectors.

Teams gathered in Onondaga Lake Park, each with its own “headquarters” tricked out with tents, food and drink, music, chairs, and more.

“This event is put on every year just for companies, and some of the food spreads these businesses put out for their employees are amazing,” said Human Resources Director Sara Glauberman. “The Corporate Challenge is a great way for Unity House to promote exercise and wellness. This is our second year participating and our numbers really went up. It’s so much fun to see all the other groups – there are so many people! – and there’s a big friendly competition over who has the coolest t-shirts every year.”

This year, Lynch’s Furniture of Auburn was the sponsor of Unity House’s neon lime green shirts. All participating employees either ran or walked the course along Onondaga Lake, enjoying the beautiful summer evening and the camaraderie of 7,000 like-minded individuals.


May 2013

In honor of National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Court and Mental Health Awareness Month, Unity House hosted the 8th annual Timothy Durant Recovery Walk on May 21. The event started in front of City Hall with remarks by Auburn Mayor Mike Quill and Drug Court Judge Michael McKeon. Then nearly 60 walkers – comprised of the three agencies’ staff, clients, and friends – walked down South Street to Clymer and back, finishing at Grace House for an open house.

“It was the largest turn-out we’ve ever had,” said Grace House Director Pam O’Conner. “Despite the storm that blew through, 60 people walked and about 40 came back to Grace House for the open house afterwards. I don’t think we’ve ever had that many people in the house all at once before!”

Refreshments were served – compliments of the Grace House residents – and guests viewed an exhibit of consumer artwork presented by the Cayuga County branch of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

The first Recovery Walk was held in 2006. Tim Durant, a former Unity House client and employee who was part of the Drug Court team, helped plan the first walk, then passed away unexpectedly one week before the event.

May 2013

Ithaca Day Hab celebrated its 3rd annual Spring Sing event on May 8. Themed “Don’t Stop Believing,” more than 25 consumers had the opportunity to step up to the microphone and share their talents. The wide selection of cover tunes included Lady GaGa, Whitney Houston, and Jerry Lee Lewis, plus two renditions each of “Beat It” by Michael Jackson and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

Led by staff member Steve O’Mara, Spring Sing has grown so popular over the years that the concert was standing room only. A number of parents, friends, staff, and consumers came out to cheer on the performers. Props representing “the big city” were handmade by staff and consumers over the preceding months. Equipment used in the event was purchased with grant funds generously donated by the Legacy Foundation and the Ithaca Savage Club.

Spring Sing coincided with an agency fundraiser in collaboration with Doug’s Fish Fry. Doug’s concession trailer was parked out front all day, drawing dozens of faithful seafood lovers to pick up lunch and dinner take-out. Doug’s will donate 10% of the day’s proceeds to Unity House.


February 2013

Go Red for Women

Unity House wore red on February 1 to help save women’s lives. In collaboration with the local chapter of the American Heart Association, employees were encouraged to wear red to raise awareness of the 10th annual National Wear Red Day.

At Auburn Day Hab, consumers and staff got in the spirit by coloring red dresses for a decorative clothesline they made, putting on their best red clothing, and enjoying red Jell-O in support of Wear Red Day.

National Wear Red Day brings women together in the fight against their No. 1 killer – heart disease. Funds raised nationwide support swifter action for women’s health, increased funding, and more research, all for the ultimate goal of saving women’s lives.