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Unity House

Unity House

Chris Burke, CEO

One of the most illuminating ways to understand the benefit of a community-focused organization like Unity House in Troy, NY, is to imagine a world without them. Imagine homeless families or individuals trapped in abusive relationships with no place to go, mentally ill people without counseling or support or young children forced to go hungry. Now imagine these same people finding respect, support, food, shelter, counseling or education right in their neighborhood. This is the good that Unity House does for its community.

CEO Chris Burke says that while other organizations provide walk-in services for people in the community, the difference is the broad diversity of services that Unity House delivers. The organization responds to the individual needs of the people who come in, and strives to find ways to answer unmet needs of their constituents. That may be with meals served daily at their community kitchen, mental health counseling, education programs for children with developmental delays, care for people with HIV/AIDS or group residences and shelters.

Since its inception in 1970, Unity House has built a large support network, with more than 375 employees, hundreds of volunteers, five group residences, 270 apartments and numerous facilities serving Rensselaer County, the greater Capital Region and virtually anyone within reach of their services. They work for social justice, advocating to influence policy and raise awareness for issues affecting the community. As an organization, they value respect and strive for a non-judgmental environment where everyone is treated as equals.

When speaking to audiences and groups, Chris often says that Unity House couldn’t do all the positive things they do without the help of their contributors and volunteers. He says the same is true about corporate supporters, including Pioneer Bank. In addition to financial contributions, Pioneer’s employees and management have served on their board of directors, volunteered time and even prepared and served meals in their community kitchen.

As Unity House’s business bank, Pioneer provides everyday financial services, business loans, lines of credit and special products such as low cost gift cards. Chris says the Pioneer team is responsive to his needs and easy to reach. He appreciates talking to the top people directly, rather than dealing with requests through headquarters in a faraway place. Chris believes the Pioneer team takes pride in helping and participating in the community. And that’s something he knows a lot about.

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