02/16/07 — United Way wants to hear community's view of local needs

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United Way wants to hear community's view of local needs

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 16, 2007 1:48 PM

With its 2006 fundraising campaign behind it and 2007 allocations made, the United Way of Wayne County is looking toward the future as it sends out 4,200 community need assessment surveys to randomly selected county residents.

The survey, which started arriving in mailboxes this week, asks people to identify the importance of 26 different issues facing Wayne County. From job opportunities, to continuing education opportunities, to substance abuse, to gangs, to retirement planning, to child abuse, residents are asked to identify those needs as critical, important, minor or not-an-issue. They also are asked to rank their top three most critical issues.

Because there are so many agencies and programs in need of funding, United Way Board of Director member Ric Moffat said, it's a process the United Way has to go through about every three to four years in order to ensure the programs they are funding are meeting the needs of the community.

"This survey, we're not going at it with the idea it'll justify the programs we are funding, we're looking at it to see what other issues there are," United Way community investment director Suzie Acree said. "It lets us take a look at the whole community and what the issues are in the whole community."

They are asking that residents return the survey by Friday, March 2.

"It's so important people take the time to do this and have a voice in deciding what this community needs," Mrs. Acree said.

The results are expected some time later in the spring, but United Way executive director Steve Parr said, interpreting those results and then, if necessary, reshuffling their funding priorities, will probably take at least the rest of the year.

Once they complete that process, though, they also will be sharing the results with other community organizations and government entities.

"I think this is a golden opportunity for the entire community to rally around the results of this survey," Parr said. "I think it'll have a large impact as we move forward."

"This is something that's going to have an impact for the next three to five years on the community of Wayne County, not just on the United Way," Moffat added.