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County United Way Short of Goal with One Month To Go

March 2nd, 2020 by WCBC Radio

Contributions to County United Way’s annual campaign currently total just over $340,000 toward the $695,000 goal. The organization provides program dollars to over thirty organizations across Allegany, Garrett, Hampshire and Mineral Counties. Due to the vast footprint, four separate campaigns run in order to direct dollars exactly as donors request in each county.

United Way leverages donations by advocating for collaboration to reduce duplication, and relies on community partnerships to focus on the most pressing needs across the region. Volunteer time alone equates to a contribution of over $225,000 annually to provide maximum community impact.

County United Way Executive Director Juli McCoy notes that the organization has not been immune to the sudden, and unexpected changes that took place in 2019. Contributions from longtime partner Verso ceased immediately with their announcement, and additional unknowns with other companies continue to linger due to out-of-the-area corporate decisions. McCoy shared a breakdown of where the campaign stands in each county with Hampshire at 91% of its $25,000 goal. “We have every reason to believe the Hampshire campaign is going to reach its goal and potentially exceed it for the first time in many years and that is very exciting for the people in those communities who are served by United Way-funded programs.” Unfortunately, the news is not as positive for Allegany County at 45% of $500,000, Garrett County at 70% of $70,000, and Mineral County at 41% of $100,000. “The reality of where these campaigns currently sit is that vital programs and services will immediately have less availability for those in need and in some cases, will cease to exist. This also creates a very discouraging outlook for emerging programs that show promise of creating major impact.”

McCoy shared in a statement that “the United Way campaign has the potential to serve as a true community campaign as it once did. Everyone is passionate about giving back and that makes it difficult to decide how to choose one cause over another. This is where United Way serves a unique role of gathering each dollar, to then create a substantial community investment. This has been the case for over 60 years – local dollars from local people, helping those who walk among us each and every day. United Way has invested millions over its 63 years. The work of United Way can be seen in so many pockets of the community and across the region, not only through direct funding, but as a trusted partner to coordinate efforts in response to emerging needs such as hygiene item collections, the annual Stuff the Bus event that last year provided over $40,000 worth of school supplies to local school children, and in annual Days of Caring & Sharing that dispatches hundreds of volunteers to complete carefully coordinated projects. It is feared that without investment by the end of March, the local United Way will be faced with very difficult decisions for its future. While we are excelling in outreach by connecting local businesses with resources, and providing opportunities for organizations to collaborate on projects, this work is not possible without the campaign reaching at least 80% of its overall goal, and amassing 30% of needed dollars in 30 days is a terrifying challenge. In March of 2019, we projected that the 2020 campaign would achieve 90% or more of fundraising goals, but that projection quickly took a different turn as significant changes emerged.”

During the current fiscal year, nearly half a million dollars has been invested in the region through donor choice and programs focused on education, financial stability and health. Included is safe and reliable care for area children that provides nutritious meals, peer-to-peer interaction and adult mentors, as well as tutoring. The town of Piedmont has access to a central community resource center, which coordinates annual family-focused activities. A collaboration with Getting Ahead has created a workforce training opportunity to give an excelling graduate an opportunity for continued upward trajectory toward financial stability. Seniors have been given the gift of aging in place by ensuring their homes are safe and accessible, and partnerships have created new resources to address homelessness and homelessness prevention. Additional collaborations focus on food insecurity while working to move households to self-sufficiency. Access to oral health has reduced reoccurring emergency department visits, and prevented further, more serious health issues. Life-sustaining medications are often not accessible for individuals on a limited income, which generates circumstances in which basic needs are not met. Decisions are made to go without needed medication in order to eat, pay rent or utilities. By coordinating with local pharmacies, hospitals and physician’s offices, United Way dollars triple in value to purchase medications at highly discounted rates. Attention can then be focused on other barriers to ensure all other basic needs are being met and stability can occur. Victims of domestic violence have had access to safe, 24-hour care, and entire households have been given a chance for full recovery after substance addiction. McCoy suggests that no one person can have this level of impact on their community, nor can one organization focus on so much. United Way, however, can have that impact through its partnerships with AHEC West, Associated Charities, Allegany Youth Enrichment Program Services, Boy Scouts, American Red Cross, Family Crisis Resource Center, Family Junction, Salvation Army, YMCA, Local Management Board, HRDC, Tri-Towns After School Program, Family Resource Network, Catholic Charities, Piedmont Library, Pressley Ridge, Cumberland Neighborhood Housing, Allegany Arts Council, Garrett Mentors, Western Maryland Food Bank and Garrett County Community Action. Additionally, United Way’s growing relationships with area businesses has established a unique pathway to other goods and services for nonprofit organizations.

The community is urged to consider a donation of any size that will put United Way closer to its goals. This can be done by mailing a check to 113A South Centre Street, Cumberland, MD 21502, using the online giving option at www.cuw.org, or contacting the office at 301-722-2700 to set up a recurring gift. McCoy noted that this is the easiest way to establish an ongoing investment in the organization. “A major source of our contributions come through payroll deductions, which operates in a similar way and creates an opportunity to make a gift most wouldn’t consider in one payment. The United Way staff is 100% invested through payroll deduction.” Donors are reminded that their gift is used as they would like and should provide a memo or note indicating to which county they would like their gift directed.

“We have all been witness to the generosity that exists here. In times of need, we come together and help strangers, because of an unexpected tragedy or simply a basic, human need. This is what we need now – for our community to come together and help us continue to address the issues holding so many back from a bright future or to just overcome a barrier.”

One Response to “County United Way Short of Goal with One Month To Go”

  1. March 02, 2020 at 3:49 pm, Kevin said:

    How much did WCBC pledge?

    Reply

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