Huntington Community Embraces Charitable Causes

Huntington Community Embraces Charitable Causes

Guide Dog Foundation honored Townwide Fund last year, naming a puppy “Charity” as a special tribute to the group. Photo from Guide Dog Foundation

By Daniel Dunaief

They put their money where their heart is. The dedicated volunteers at The Townwide Fund of Huntington contribute to charities that provide everything from meals to visiting nurses to guide dogs. Founded in 1961, Townwide Fund, which was originally called Huntington Township Charities Inc., has donated over $12 million to charities with the hope of ensuring that the town meets the needs of its residents.

Times Beacon Record News Media is pleased to name the members of Townwide Fund as its People of the Year.

Executives from several area charities appreciated the ongoing financial support from Townwide Fund.

“The need is greater and the funding gets less,” said Susan Shiloni, the executive director of Literacy Suffolk, which has received financial backing from Townwide Fund since 2001. “We are so grateful for these other sources of revenue like the Townwide Fund that help us out. I don’t know where we would be” without places like the fund, which provided $3,000 this year.

Literacy Suffolk helps build literacy among adults. Townwide Fund’s contribution supports training for one-on-one tutoring.

Charity, one year later. Photo from the Guide Dog Foundation

Guide Dog Foundation, meanwhile, has received financial assistance from Townwide Fund for over 20 years that adds up to about $60,000. In the past three years, the fund has helped with new puppy vests and equipment and supplies for the nursery. This year, it also helped buy a portable ultrasound scanner for a home whelping program.

“With this vital piece of equipment, we can scan a mother dog after she has given birth to ensure everything has gone well,” Theresa Manzolillo explained in an email. “We don’t have to bring her to a vet, which reduces any potential health risks to the puppies and helps keep the mom’s stress level low.”

For Island Harvest Food Bank, Townwide Fund has stepped up with $15,500 in the last four years, which helped provide about 31,000 meals.

“The Townwide Fund of Huntington enables us to provide residents who may be struggling with hunger and food insecurity with supplemental food support and essential services to help guide them from uncertainty to stability,” Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest, wrote in an email.

One of the longest standing organizations supported by the fund, Visiting Nurse Service of New York has been receiving contributions from the fund’s inception, in 1961. Prior to the creation of Medicare, the fund helped support a wide range of expenses. In recent years, the fund helps support services Medicare and insurance don’t cover, like acupuncture, which helps with pain control and symptom management, said Linda Taylor.

The fund is “very community oriented” and “supports the people who live here,” Taylor said.

David Altman, a founding partner of the law firm of Brown & Altman, became the president of the fund this year.

The money the fund provides is “really affecting our community to make a better life,” said Vita Scaturrro, who

is on the board of the fund and is also the co-chair of the grants committee. “The grants we give have a return.”

Scaturro said the grants committee reviews all the applications, writes up its recommendations and then presents them to the board. Grants need to be submitted by the end of July.

Townwide has several fundraising events. They host the Charity Gala, St. Patrick’s Run, Classic Golf Outing, Comedy Night and Thanksgiving Day Run. The fund also collects donations through a year-end annual appeal, Corporate Sponsorship Program, Coin Box Program and online Round Up Program.

Scaturro is pleased with the way the funds benefit people who live in the area.

“I’ve been involved with different not-for-profit organizations,” said Scaturro, who has lived in Huntington for 36 years. The money from Townwide Fund “is given for the right purpose.”

People interested in learning more about the fund can visit the website, at www.townwidefund.