Good Morning – This is your United Way

United Way of Marion CountyThe following column was submitted by Pam Stone, United Way of Marion County Director

If you call my office and I answer the phone, you’ll hear me say, “Good Morning. This is your United Way – Pam speaking.”   I answer that way to remind both myself and callers that United Way belongs to the people of Marion County, not to me.

I write this column with gratitude in my heart for all of the people and businesses that supported us during the 2014 campaign. But the United Way Board of Trustees and I feel that it’s important to remind people what happens when we don’t raise the money we need for the county.

During the 2014 campaign, we were able to raise a little over 75 percent of the goal.  As a result, we can only provide 75 percent of the funding to the 18 agencies and 35 programs that need that money to survive. I guess the easiest way to truly understand the situation is to think about how a 25 percent cut in either your household or business budget would affect you.  For me, it wouldn’t be good, but I would probably survive it. However:

  • Some senior citizens who need medication they can’t afford might not survive it.  (United Community Rx Program)
  • Some children who are depressed and contemplating suicide might not survive it. (Signs of Suicide Program)
  • Some women who are being violently stalked might not survive it. (Turning Point and Legal Aid Society)

Not all the consequences are this dire, but many of the programs that receive United Way donor money are producing wonderful results. Think about what happens if:

  • Boys & Girls Club can no longer remain open late for parents to pick up their children after work.
  • Marion Area Counseling Center has to cut staff and programming for children who are drinking and driving.
  • Marion Matters has to cut back on their classes to transition people out of poverty.

At the very least, many of the programs will not be able to provide emergency services like food, shelter and clothing to all of the people who really need them.

The vast majority of the money we raise goes directly into programming for the residents of Marion County. United Way has had to tighten its belt, too, but the consequences to the agencies and programs are much more severe.

Those individuals and businesses that think their small donations won’t be missed are wrong. Payroll deduction is by far the easiest way to give, but whether you give just $1 per week or a check for $52, you can provide food for three hungry people for at least one week at Salvation Army or vital intervention for two young people at risk of suicide through Marion Area Counseling Center.

The drop in funding also endangers the progress we’ve been making in areas like early childhood literacy and helping high school seniors graduate and transition into work or additional education.

It’s been awhile since we have missed our goal by this much, so we just need to remind everyone what it means when that happens.   Continuing this work is not something we can do alone.  We can provide the structure, the oversight and even some of the people, but the money comes from all of you.  Like I said – whether we succeed or fail – this is your United Way.

Pam Stone, Executive Director

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