Utica, NY – Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon was excited to welcome New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to Utica as they joined forces to announce a significant funding initiative aimed at bolstering Safe Schools Mohawk Valley, local non-profits, and first responders. The announcement was made during a visit to the Urban Leadership Institute, a transformative youth leadership camp hosted by Safe Schools Mohawk Valley, which provides at-risk youth with essential tools to succeed academically and professionally.
As part of this collaborative effort, Assemblywoman Buttenschon and Speaker Heastie unveiled a commitment of $1 million in funding, with a portion allocated to furthering the mission of Safe Schools Mohawk Valley.
Safe Schools Director Anne Lansing expressed gratitude for the support, saying, “We are thrilled have Assembly Buttenschon and Assembly Speaker Heastie come to our Urban Leadership Institute to make this announcement during our Urban Leadership Institute (ULI) program for high school students in the Mohawk Valley. Students come to learn about how to become leaders in their communities and give back to their communities. First responders are the backbone to communities' safety, security and prosperity and we want them to consider this a rewarding career possibility. We welcome the support and forward thinking from Assemblymember Buttenschon and Assembly Speaker Heastie to include our students in this announcement as well as to meet them and talk about the importance of first responders and their important work to welfare of each community.”
One of the focal points of this endeavor was the Urban Leadership Institute, a free five-day conference hosted by Safe Schools Mohawk Valley. This program empowers students by emphasizing leadership skills, promoting teamwork, and equipping them with valuable experiences to enhance their college and career prospects.
Assemblywoman Buttenschon shared her perspective on the positive synergy between first responders and our youths, stating, "Our first responders play an essential role in shaping a safe and secure environment for our community to grow. By developing a constructive relationship between them and our youth, we can pave the way for a stronger, safer society. This funding not only supports our young people but also fortifies the bond between our local heroes and those they serve."
“Over the past few years, the recruitment of first responders has become extremely difficult and agencies across our nation are approaching, or are facing, critical staffing shortages. Thinking outside of the box by everyone is necessary as we navigate through this challenge and this funding will help us do just that and I thank the Assemblywoman for making this happen”, according to Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.
"The Volunteer Fire Service is grateful for the continued support we receive from Assemblywoman Buttenschon. This funding will assist us in combating the challenge we are currently facing and assist us in developing new strategies for recruitment and retention of members in Oneida County!" Oneida County Fire Chiefs Association
In addition to supporting Safe Schools Mohawk Valley, the funding initiative will also benefit local non-profit organizations and emergency responders. Recipients include the Oneida County Fire Chiefs Association, Oneida County Law Enforcement Coalition, Midstate EMS, Rome NAACP, Utica NAACP, Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Veteran’s Outreach Center, Rome YMCA, and The Center. Municipalities include Oneida County Emergency Services, City of Utica Police and Fire and City of Rome Police and Fire.
The distribution of these funds underscores the commitment to community well-being and the importance of collaborative work to meet the recruitment goals of first responders in the Mohawk Valley.
Speaker Heastie and Assemblywoman Buttenschon also announced $2 million in funding directed towards the Val Bialas Ski Center in Utica, NY. This funding will further enrich the center's offerings to include year around family fun. Buttenschon stressed the importance of enhancing local youth recreational spaces and fostering community engagement.
As the funding's positive effects ripple through the community, Assemblywoman Buttenschon and Speaker Heastie remain steadfast in their dedication to fostering growth and positive partnerships in the Mohawk Valley.