Wojeski Fund Raises Money For 'Life-Affirming' Events For Kids
To kick off the Holiday Season, Wojeski & Company is hosting its Fourteenth Annual Charity Event. This year's event will be held at the East Greenbush Fire House located at 68 Phillips Road, on Thursday, December 07, 2017 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Children's entertainment will include Ron Prior of SEH Entertainment with music, games & prizes, holiday ornament crafts, and a much anticipated visit by Santa Claus. A monetary donation or new unwrapped toys will be appreciated.
CoNSERNS-U (a Catholic Charities program) has a long history of assisting the less fortunate of Rensselaer County and has agreed to assist us with the administration and disbursement of the contributions received from this event. This may be an especially difficult year for those in need and we are asking for your assistance to help us make this year's event a huge success. With your help, children that may not have an equal chance to succeed in life will benefit from your generosity.
If you cannot attend the event but would like to make a contribution, please send your tax deductible donation made payable to CoNSERNS-U and return it in the enclosed envelope. Wojeski & Company will match the first $2,500 in funds received. Enclosed is a flyer to post or distribute for anyone who might be interested in attending our event. If you have any questions regarding the event, please feel free to call Trish Hurysz or Barbara Wampole at 477-1102.
Information about the Wojeski Fund below.
For the child who wants to play the violin, but can't afford the instrument. For the family stricken with head lice and in need of haircuts. For the student left behind on a class field trip because it was too costly.
The Wojeski Fund was launched in 2004 by the founder of Wojeski & Company CPAs in effort to raise money to finance "life-affirming" events of the neediest children in Rensselaer County.
Sometimes funds are used to pay for a class field trip, or a musical instrument. Other times it replaces a urine-stained mattress, or restores plumbing in a rural family's home.
"Our firm's primary owner and founder David Wojeski started the fund because of his awareness that there were children who didn't have the means to afford the things that others could to promote their self-esteem," the firm's Chief Operating Officer Betty DiMaria said. "It enables children to experience what their peers can enjoy, if they can't afford it – things that traditional government and charity programs aren't going to be able to cover."
The fund has raised over $200,000 since its inception, and last year raised over $25,000 alone through its annual fundraiser held around the winter holiday season, DiMaria said.
This year the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized the fund's efforts with a Van Rensselaer Award.
Wojeski started the fund 13 years ago after interacting with impoverished children while coaching and volunteering with youth.
"I realized many children had low self-esteem simply because they were born into underprivileged situations, through no fault of their own," he said. "The real eye-opener for me was when I participated in a 'take your daughter to work day' and was matched up with a less fortunate child. Talking to her about her life was the final pivotal moment that caused me to start The Wojeski Fund."
Each year the Wojeski Fund hosts the fundraiser, which helps raise money that is then doled out through CoNCERNS-U, a program run through Catholic Charities in Rensselaer, its coordinator Colleen Pidgeon said.
"When a request comes in, we do our best to fulfill the need, hope that most of it is life-affirming," she said. "One of the things that's so wonderful about the Wojeski Fund is that every single dollar that is raised benefits a child. There's no overhead."
Pidgeon said nearly all her referrals come through Rensselaer County primary schools and college social workers as well as the county's mental health department. The children and families who benefit from a fan to alleviate asthma concerns or clothing for work, for instance, are anonymous to the Wojeski Fund.
Heather Staszak, a social worker in the Rensselaer City School District, said money sometimes goes to students who can't afford prom tickets or dresses, or caps and gowns for graduation.
"I'm thinking monumental times – when it's important to a kid, like a class ring," Staszak said. Some families don't "have a lot of extra money for things that are getting very costly."
Maureen Flanigan, who is a social worker at West Sand Lake Elementary, said she's referred many students and families over the years to the program when all avenues have been exhausted.
"A lot of times it puts them on an equal footing with their peers who have those things," Flanigan said. "It provides them with dignity and enables them to move forward and really blend in with the other students who generally have most of their needs met by their parents."
While government assistance and other programs may be available to assist low-income families, there are some things the Department of Social Services is restricted from providing, Flanigan said. Other programs may take an exorbitant amount of time and have a lot of requirements, acting as a deterrent to families getting the assistance they may need.
"I think the CoNCERNS-U and the Wojeski Fund treats the families that they help with dignity," Flanigan said. "I think that that's an immeasurable quality because they don't make them feel like second-class citizens."