A Helping Hand Supports All of Westchster



Non-profit organizations are a critical part of Westchester’s economy. A strong business base and involved citizenry make the county an ideal place for not-for-profit organizations to carry out their missions. Richard P. Swierat is Executive Director of Westchester Arc, a six-decade-old organization serving people with developmental disabilities. He says non-profits in the county “are a substantial part of the business market, and they are the basis for a substantial portion of the labor force, employing more than 40,000. That’s over 8 percent of Westchester’s workforce.”

There is already a “solid and growing non-profit base” in the county, but Swierat adds, “There is plenty of room for additional firms that appreciate the unique and extremely favorable climate Westchester presents.”

Among the current roster of non-profits are arts organizations, a wide mix of national charities, education support groups, social services and a variety of associations and hospitals.

“There’s an amazing depth of not-for-profit organizations here: groups providing services for everything from mental health to social services, the arts and the environment,” says Naomi Adler, President and CEO, United Way of Westchester and Putnam counties. “That is incredibly valuable both to these groups as well as to residents who can themselves draw on these services, which is particularly the case now in terms of rising concerns over health, divorce and personal finance.”

One United Way-sponsored operation Adler points to is the “2-1-1” help line. This, she explains, is a comprehensive information referral service, available in about 150 languages and accessible daily from 8 am to 8 pm. The ability for everyone countywide to get critical information in a timely and confidential manner benefits individuals along with resident corporations. “Companies appreciate us because we help their employees find the help they need,” Adler says. “Once they’ve acquired that information, often stress and absenteeism are reduced while productivity increases.”

The efforts of non-profits are enhanced by a corps of executives that enjoys the Westchester lifestyle and, according to Swierat, “provides a valuable body of potential talent for companies contemplating moving here.” Swierat also notes that Westchester’s residents tend to be active volunteers, gladly giving back to the community by being an on-the-scene worker or sitting on a corporate board.

“The richness of Westchester communities is an absolute plus when companies face a decision about where to relocate,” Swierat explains. “We have Y’s, arts councils, Boy Scouts, and all kinds of things that really matter to upscale families. And when spouses arrive here, they’re pleased there is no lack of opportunity and choice enabling them to continue their volunteering efforts.

“Ultimately,” Swierat states, “Westchester is full of communities that re-energize themselves by the efforts of residents who continually give back.”

By the Numbers

A three-year-old study conducted by Pace University in partnership with The Business Council of Westchester tracked the economic impact of non-profits to Westchester County. The study found that there were more than 3,400 registered non-profit organizations in Westchester County. As of the first quarter of 2007, total revenue of those organizations was more than $5.9 billion, with total assets reaching an estimated $8.1 billion.

[ RESOURCE BOX ]

Look here for more information about organizations mentioned in the “Non-Profit Spotlight” section:

United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Westchester Arc

Pictured Above: Richard P. Swierat is Executive Director of Westchester Arc, a six-decade-old organization serving people with developmental disabilities.

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