12/21/05 — United Way adds a week to campaign

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United Way adds a week to campaign

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 21, 2005 1:48 PM

To try to make this year's goal of $1.425 million, United Way of Wayne County has extended its deadline a second time.

The campaign was supposed to end the week of Thanksgiving, but it was short by $326,222, about 22 percent, said Jane Rustin, campaign chairman.

So, the drive was extended until the middle of December.

But United Way is still $76,610 behind, so now potential donors will have until the end of the month to make their pledges. The total as of Dec. 20 stands at $1,348,390, 95 percent of the goal.

"We had a board meeting and the unanimous decision of the board was that we absolutely have to continue and give it our best shot to get the funding that we need," Ms. Rustin said.

That doesn't mean community members should keep waiting to make their pledges in anticipation of another extension, however, she warned.

"We are closing the campaign at the end of the month," she said.

Ms. Rustin said there are some local companies that have conducted their employee campaigns but have not yet turned in their results because those funds have to go through offices that are located elsewhere.

That means there could be more pledge money coming -- funds the United Way must have to make sure it is able to meet the budget needs of the local service agencies and charities it supports.

"So there is some unknown and there may be some additional reports coming in after the campaign is officially over, but we really don't know how much that will be yet," Ms. Rustin said.

She said the United Way is trying to get as much money as possible for next year's programs. "We can't let people who need it not be served."

United Way hopes to be able to raise enough money to improve the lives of 28,500 local people next year. With the campaign total now, more than 1,500 people would not receive help due to a shortage of funds.

"That's what's motivating us to extend the campaign until the end of December," said Steve Parr, United Way director. "Those are seniors who receive Meals on Wheels, kids in afterschool programs at the Boys Club, people getting emergency assistance through the Red Cross, people having a place to stay at the Salvation Army, a woman who's saved from domestic violence through the Lighthouse.

"These are real things that are happening day in and day out. And there's more people looking for these services. That's why we are pushing to get the community to rally together. Isn't it worth it to reach out and try to embrace those other 1,500 people? I'd say it is."

Ms. Rustin stressed that donors do not have to give the money right now. All that's really needed is a pledge.

"We just need your promise that next year at some point you will give us something to help," she said.

She said United Way hopes people will really think about what it means to live in Wayne County and support their friends and neighbors.

"We know that we've got to see if the community can raise that money," Parr said. "The challenge is that we're not too sure where that money is. So, we've got to take the time now to go find it."

He said United Way will focus on individuals and companies who haven't participated in the campaign in previous years and even this year.

"If someone wants to step in and get involved, this is the year to do it," Parr said. "Everybody has been thinking about people outside of our community and wanting to help other people in other parts of the country. But we've got issues here in Wayne County."

"It's really not about United Way succeeding in a campaign," Ms. Rustin said. "It's about a community responding to the call that's put out to them to help each other. It's a community investment."