United Way reaches 88 percent of campaign goal

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By The Staff

United Way of Marion County announced that it has reached 88 percent or $2.2 million dollars of the goal set in August 2008. The goal set by the United Way board of directors was $2.5 million, a milestone set in 2006 and raised again in 2007.

“This has been a tough year, and we feel that we have put forth a great effort,” volunteer campaign co-chair Dr. Manal Fakhoury said. “But I have to also thank the many companies and individuals in this community that knew the challenges going in and still made outstanding contributions. We are very grateful to all donors.”

Fakhoury said that this year’s campaign, although close to its goal, has also been “challenged” by other factors, including the impact of local and national elections, workplace downsizing and a decrease in the number of major gift-givers because of concerns about the economy.

More than 50 agency programs have applied for funding this year with requests totaling more than $2.5 million dollars. Currently, allocation volunteers are reviewing the applications and will be making recommendations on funding to the United Way board of directors in April.

In December, a one-time estate gift was given to the United Way and funds from that gift will also be used to assist with funding agency program requests. Without the use of that gift, there would be a 32 percent decrease in available funding.

Currently 60,000 people, or nearly one in five Marion County residents, utilize the services provided by United Way funded programs, but only 9,000 people, or three percent of the county, contribute to the United Way. Those programs provide food and shelter for the homeless, a safe haven and counseling for battered and abused women and children, job training for the blind and those with disabilities, and emergency relief services for those facing economic hardship or family tragedy, among many other services.

Grant money available

for nonprofits

Marion County has been chosen to receive $227,922 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the area. This represents a $105 percent increase from last year.

The selection was made by a National Board chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and consisting of representatives from the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Council of Jewish Federations, Catholic Charities, Council of Churches in Christ in the U.S.A. and the United Way of America, which provides the administrative staff and functions as the fiscal agent.

The board is charged to distribute funds appropriated by Congress to help expand the capability of food and shelter programs in high-need areas throughout the country.

A local board will determine how the funds awarded to Marion County are to be distributed among emergency food and shelter programs run by local service organizations. The local board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds that might become available under this phase of the program.

Under terms of the grant from the national board, local government or private voluntary organizations chosen to receive funds must: 1) be nonprofit; 2) have an accounting system and conduct an annual audit; 3) practice nondiscrimination; 4) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs; and 5) if they are a private voluntary organization, they must have a voluntary board. Qualifying organizations are urged to apply.

Marion County has distributed these funds previously to Interfaith Emergency Services, Salvation Army, Annie Johnson Senior Service Center, Creative Services, Federation of Brothers in Christ, Arnette House, HELP Agency of the Forest, and Brother’s Keeper. These agencies have been responsible for providing meals, lodging, utility and rental assistance.

For more information, call Maureen Quinlan at 732-9696. Applications may be picked up 1401 N.E. 2nd St., and must be completed and returned no later than 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13.