With just days left in the Franklin County Area United Way Drive, organizers are pushing to reach its ambitious $1 million goal.
So far, 80.2 percent of the goal has been reached. Pledges and direct gifts total $802,668, according to Paula Obermark, executive director.
“One final appeal is being made to every individual, company and organization in the area to make their donation by Nov. 20, the day before we announce our goal attainment,” Obermark said.
Those who have not given may drop donations at the United Way office, 301 W. Front St., Washington. Donations also may be mailed to P.O. Box 3, Washington, MO 63090 or submitted online, at www.franklincountyuw.org.
“Even if you have already given please consider giving a little more,” Obermark said. “The need is great. I don’t believe too many people know or understand that our reserve funds are exhausted.”
Giving Is Critical
Obermark said that even with reserve funds being added to annual drive contributions, the United Way has not been able to meet the needs of its health and human service agencies the last four years.
“We had over $1 million in agency requests this year and could only fund $741,000,” Obermark noted. “Loving Hearts, for example, was forced to reduce its days of operation from five days per week to three days. Many of our agencies and programs simply do not have the funds to meet the needs of our citizens.”
One community leader, L.B. Eckelkamp, said that the last several years have been difficult.
“As we all know, the last few years have been very difficult ones for so many of our neighbors who count on our United Way for help,” he said. “We really need to top our million dollar goal to be able to fund all requests for assistance. Please give generously.”
Making financial contributions has been made harder with job loss and other economic problems, said Ann Schroeder, Franklin County commissioner.
“Franklin County has been hurt by job loss, home foreclosures, small business closings, and shortened working hours resulting in declining incomes and revenue. United Way serves all of Franklin County, all communities both small and large, all ages, our neighbors, and our fellow employees, those with disabilities, our veterans, our children, our schools, and our elderly,” Schroeder said.
“United Way is an efficient way to reach all communities in Franklin County and assist many who are in need. Each of us can make a difference and working together we can reach further and serve more. Every dollar does make a difference to those who need our help.”
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy said she is impressed with the way United Way provides a “hand up” and not a “hand out.”
“It truly is (the United Way’s) goal to encourage their clients to be independent and self-sustaining,” she said. “I find this to be an integral part of helping others and applaud their commitment to build better communities. The United Way needs our help to provide these services.”
The mission of the United Way is to build better communities.
Services are provided in four different areas: caring for the elderly and disabled, nurturing and protecting our children and young people, strengthening families to be self-sufficient and independent, and providing emergency assistance to those in need. This leads to healthier citizens, safer neighborhoods and stronger communities.
This past year, the United Way helped more than 70,000 people in 35 communities to receive health and human services.