18 Local Nonprofit Organizations to Receive Excellus’ Community Health Awards

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has awarded a total of $214,000 in community health awards to 53 nonprofit organizations in Upstate New York to support local organizations with improving community health, including 18 organizations in the Utica region.

Through a competitive application process, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards help fund programs that improve the health or health care of a specific population, programs that aim to improve the health status of the community, closes the gaps in health disparities, reduces the incidence of specific diseases, promotes health education and assists our communities in dealing with COVID. 

“The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to support local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Eve Van de Wal, Utica regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “These awards complement our existing grants and sponsorships with agencies that work to enhance quality of life, including health status, in upstate New York.”

The 18 nonprofit organizations in the Utica region chosen to receive Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Award Funding are:

Cape Vincent Improvement League (Cape Vincent) — Funds support a Community Garden maintained by Cape Vincent Improvement League. One hundred percent of the Community Garden crop is donated to the local food pantry to be distributed to those at risk of hunger.

Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. (Utica) — Funding supports Recovery & Prevention Services: HOPE Builds a Future of Wellness. This program provides bags of HOPE for distribution throughout our communities. HOPE bags contain contacts of local available resources, face masks and sanitizer, sensory items such as stress balls, soft blankets, and stuffed animals. Journals are also included to promote self-reflection and incorporate wellness and positive reinforcement into the daily lives of the individuals they serve. 

Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Foundation (Ogdensburg) — Funding supports the $25 Feeds Five: Cooking with CHMC program. This program encourages healthier at-home cooking, especially during the pandemic and winter months, by combine the home-chef box concept with an in-house cooking show that guides participants through healthy meal preparation.

Clinton Chamber of Commerce (Clinton) – Funding supports the Clinton Farmers Market – Power of Produce Kids Club. This program provides a fun opportunity for children to learn about their local food system through conversations with farmers, educational games, and exposure to new fruits and vegetables. Each child receives two $1 tokens weekly to spend at the farmer’s market.

Community Rehab Project, Inc. (Utica) – Funding supports their Aging In Place program. This program provides services and equipment to support independent living for older adults and individuals with disability through therapy, wellness, fall prevention, and home modification. 

Cooperstown Food Pantry, Inc. (Cooperstown) – Funding supports the Farmers’ Market Voucher program. This program provides farmers market vouchers to families who participate in the Cooperstown Food Pantry to purchase fresh produce at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market. 

Herkimer County HealthNet (Herkimer) – Funding is in support of their effort to increase access to healthcare through providing transportation resources in the northern and southern sectors of Herkimer County. Over the last 10 years, the need for transportation to medical appointments and specialized care in Herkimer County has grown significantly.

Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties, Inc. (Plattsburg) – Funding supports the JCEO/Cornerstone “Farmacy”.  This program brings fresh and local produce, dairy, meat and bulk spices to a pharmacy in Rouses Point, a rural location without a grocery store nearby.

Literacy of Northern New York, Inc. (Watertown) – Funding is used to support the training of advanced, English as a second language thanks to help from an English tutor, students to provide translation services to assist low-level English speakers with communicating with medical professionals.  This service will be used by ESL members of the community to schedule medical, dental, and other health appointments, as well as for translation assistance during medical office visits.       

Little Falls Community Outreach, LLC (Little Falls) – Funding supports the food backpack program. This program provides backpacks filled with food to area children and their families who are experiencing food insecurity.

Masonic Care Community of New York (Utica) — The award supports Masonic Care Community’s telehealth program and will provide additional computer resources to support resident telehealth visits.

Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc. (Utica) – Funding was awarded in support of the creation of La Abundancia, a communal space and garden in the Cornhill neighborhood of Utica.  This permaculture demonstration garden will be designed by 20 multicultural, multigenerational students.  La Abundancia will provide the local community with free healthy food, community support, and a common place to gather for celebrating community and tradition.

Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (The Center) (Utica) – Funding supports Yoga Classes for Diverse Populations. Classes are led by a local, certified yoga instructor and are designed to support both physical and mental well-being. Classes are free and open to the public.

Pathfinder Village, Inc. (Edmeston) – Funding supports the Mobile Market Senior Services Project. This program extends produce vouchers to area seniors with limited income, food insecurity, and limited transportation, providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce is delivered to those in need along with healthy recipes, cooking tips, and cards containing positive messages created by enrollees of Pathfinder’s Adult Day Services for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley (Utica) – Funding supports group counseling sessions offered through telehealth. These counseling sessions are designed for individuals recovering from COVID-19, those with long-term effects from the virus, and those caring for someone with COVID-19.

Samaritan Medical Center (Watertown) – Funding will help to expand the home healthcare monitoring program. Samaritan Medical Center will purchase up to 40 medical-grade pulse oximeters, small devices which measure patients’ oxygen saturation levels. These instruments will be issued to outpatients whose oxygenation-related symptoms are not severe enough to require hospitalization, so that their conditions can be monitored at home.

Ticonderoga Area Backpack Program, Inc. (Ticonderoga) — This program provides backpacks filled with nutritious food to area children and their families who are experiencing food insecurity.

Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (Watertown) —The mission of the VTC is to provide transportation to health, wellness, and critical needs destinations for those who have barriers to transportation, regardless of their ability to pay.  

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is committed to supporting local organizations that improve community health. The company’s corporate giving follows all applicable laws and regulations and does not support funding organizations that conflict with its corporate mission, goals, policies or products.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Utica region encompasses Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and St. Lawrence counties.

Photo: Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica Regional President Eve Van de Wal gives Power of Produce Kids Club tokens to the Townsend family (Michelle, Vance, Everett, and Maverick) at the Clinton Farmers Market.