12/19/05 — United Way could make cuts

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United Way could make cuts

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 19, 2005 1:49 PM

Facing the possibility of not making its fundraising goal this year, United Way is prepared to make cuts to some of its programs if necessary to keep the charity's budget in the black.

United Way is projecting missing its goal of $1.425 million by more than $39,000. Organization officials had hoped to be able to help 28,800 people in Wayne County next year through funded agencies and programs.

"If we do not make our goal, all our programs will be affected," said Kay Albertson, vice president of community investments for United Way and vice president of academic and student development at Wayne Community College. "And not just the programs themselves, but those lives that are greatly in need.

"What we're basically looking at is programs whose funding could be cut by some percentage thereof. We might be looking at program funding being at the level that it was at last year. Once again, it's not going to be sufficient for 2006, because we have so many more people in need."

And for some of the agencies that use United Way funds, 2006 might bring no dollars at all, Ms. Albertson said.

"It may be that some of the programs, based upon the outcomes that they have actually had for this current year, would not get any funding. It's a significant impact on what the programs can actually do for the clients that they serve."

Another option would be to discontinue several grants that United Way gives out each year.

The Boys and Girls Club receives funding from United Way. Director Mary Ann Dudley said that if the club's funding is cut, "the Boys & Girls Club will have to make some very hard decisions and determine what services or expenditures to curtail. We may be forced to look at the number of children we serve on a daily basis and look at how to tighten our belt one more notch."

She said Wayne County has been a very giving community and that she hopes all residents realize the importance of United Way's agencies.

Another agency receiving United Way money is the Wayne Opportunity Center, which serves mentally and physically disabled residents. Its adult development vocational program (ADVP) and job placement programs are funded through United Way.

Director John Chance said if the agency's funding has to be cut for 2006, that would mean that its ADVP transportation program might have to be cut.

"That would be the easiest thing to do," he said. "We have 46 developmentally disabled individuals who would not have transportation to the center and would end up sitting home with nothing to do."

Chance said the Opportunity Center would possibly have to curtail some of its job placement efforts. "We would not be able to place as many people with disabilities in the workforce and make them productive residents," he said.

"But you never know. United Way may decide not to fund our agency at all next year if there's not enough money."

Community investments cco-chairman Chris Martin said there are many people in Wayne County who have needs.

"We are all part of this community," said the human resources manager at Mount Olive Pickle Co. "Those of us who are able to have an obligation to help some of the ones who maybe can't help themselves or who are maybe doing as good as they can do."

She said the allocations panels don't want to have to make some of these really hard decisions because they affect people's lives.

"Every program that we oversee, we see their finances," Ms. Martin said. "We know that those people are stretching a dollar so far that it's squeaking. But they can only stretch it so far and then they're just not going to be able to offer the services to everybody."

The allocations process takes place every year, Ms. Albertson said. Each agency and program submits a proposal to United Way, a request for funding.

The allocations panels make the decision on whether the program falls into an area of need identified by Wayne County residents, which are children and youths, health and safety, education and outreach and community well-being, she said.

Panel members visit every agency. And there is a set of objective criteria the panels use to make their decisions about funding as a group.

"Every $50 United Way raises services one person," Ms. Albertson said. "That's pretty incredible."