APT Executive Director Carey Eidel to be Honored with Unity House of Cayuga County’s ‘Open Arms Award’


March 24, 2017

NEWS CONTACT:  Kelly Buck, Director of Marketing & Development, 315.253.6227 x313


Gary Coon and Carey Eidel to be honored at April 24 gala dinner

Auburn, New York – Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017. The agency is pleased to announce its two annual award winners, both of whom will be honored at its gala annual board and award dinner on Monday, April 24. The special event takes place at the Emerson Park pavilion in Auburn beginning at 5:30pm. Cost is $50 per person. The keynote speaker will be Kathy Cronkite on mental wellness. The public is warmly invited to attend. RSVPs are due by April 14. Online registration and payment may be found at: www.unityhouse.com/40thanniversary.html.

The Fred Atkins Community Service Award selection committee announces that Mr. Gary Coon of Auburn has been chosen as its 7th annual awardee. Gary was nominated by Linda Mackay of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mr. Coon has been an outstanding community volunteer for many years at a number of organizations in Cayuga County, including Westminster Church, the Calvary food pantry, Fleming Fire Department, the Utopia Club, the S-K Post #1324 of the American Legion, and others. At the dinner, he will receive a $500 cash prize: $250 for him to keep and $250 to be given to the Cayuga County non-profit of his choice. Gary has chosen the Calvary food pantry as this year’s recipient. He will present the check to Nancy Sheffield-Tanner at the dinner.

“I am so honored to be chosen for this award; it really took me by surprise,” said Gary. “I’ve known Fred Atkins and his family since I was a teenager, so it’s an honor to be associated with this award. Looking at the past winners, I’m in good company.”

Unity House introduced the community-wide Atkins fund and award in 2011 in memory of beloved Cayuga County volunteer and 30-year Unity House board member Frederick Atkins. The Atkins Award recognizes an outstanding individual who volunteers in Cayuga County and who exemplifies Fred’s high moral standards and philanthropic spirit.

Unity House’s in-house Open Arms Award committee has selected Mr. Carey Eidel of Auburn Public Theater as its 2017 awardee. Carey was nominated by Allie MacPherson, director of Grace House. Allie says of Carey and Auburn Public Theater: “APT has had a relationship with Unity House for many years, providing consistent volunteer opportunities for Grace House residents. They have gone above and beyond to guide them in their recovery, and provide a creative space for the residents to succeed. Carey and the APT staff have also hired former Grace House residents; they have actually created paying jobs for them once they’ve completed their recovery program, and given them opportunities to be successful and give back to our community. I can’t thank them enough.”

Auburn Public Theater has been open for ten years, and offers community arts events for all.

“We have a mutually beneficial relationship with Unity House, and we are extremely pleased to work with Grace House residents,” said Carey. “If they show the initiative, we respond by taking them under our wing and sharing life and job skills they can use here and for future employment.”

Unity House established the Open Arms Award in 2012 as a way to recognize a community member or organization that truly welcomes the agency’s program participants in public and/or at their place of business. The awardee demonstrates empathy and genuine delight when interacting with these individuals, helping them to gain a sense of place and inclusion within the community, a hallmark of Unity House’s work. Unity House employees are invited to nominate an individual or company that exemplifies the Open Arms Award: caring, compassion, and a commitment to recognizing ability, not disability.

Many thanks to the following businesses (to date) for supporting Unity House’s annual dinner:

Celebration sponsor ($2,500): Key Bank

Dinner sponsors ($1,000): Cuddy Law Firm, Relph Benefit Advisors, and Welch Allyn

Table sponsors ($400): Currier Plastics, Maguire Family of Dealerships, Reagan Companies, Johnston Paper, and MEDENT

Lake Country Real Estate donated the “Key to the House” fundraiser prize – a one-week cottage rental on Cayuga Lake ($1,100)

For more information about the award presentations or Unity House’s annual dinner, please contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at 315.253.6227 or kdbuck@unityhouse.com, and visit www.unityhouse.com/RSVP/boarddinner.asp.

Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc. provides transitional and permanent housing, rehabilitative, and employment services for individuals with mental health illnesses, developmental disabilities, and/or chemical dependencies from which they are recovering. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Unity House partners with these individuals to develop their personal skills and potential, enabling them to live more full and independent lives. The agency serves more than 700 adults a day in six central New York counties. Unity House is committed to freeing our communities of misconceptions associated with disabilities through innovation, education, and advocacy. The agency is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017.

Press Release courtesy of Kelly D. Buck of Unity House of Cayuga County, Inc.