09/01/09 — United Way kicks off campaign -- $200K already in coffers

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United Way kicks off campaign -- $200K already in coffers

By Laura Collins
Published in News on September 1, 2009 1:46 PM

Only three weeks into the United Way of Wayne County's annual campaign, the organization has already raised nearly $200,000.

"(As of Friday), the campaign has raised $197,847, which amounts to about 3,959 improved lives in Wayne County. For every $50 that is given, it will improve someone's life," said Brian Taylor, campaign community fundraiser chairman.

This year's campaign kicked off Aug. 11 at the annual Taste of Wayne County event and runs through Dec. 3. The 2009 campaign goal is $1.4 million, slightly less than 2008's goal of $1.42 million. Last year, the organization fell short in reaching its goal, raising only $1.36 million. This year, Taylor said the United Way is working on changing its image and focus.

"In reference to United Way, we are working more at trying to deal with people in their situation. We're changing our image from being a fundraising organization to an organization that improves lives with long-term and positive changes," he said. "Success will no longer be measured by the campaign thermometer, but on the number of lives that will be changed in Wayne County."

He added that the organization has four focus areas for its agencies: education, health and wellness, stabilizing personal crisis and improving futures for families. Agencies looking for funding for 2010 have been able to submit letters of intent to the United Way identifying which category the agency falls under and its plan to address that area of concern.

"It gives us a better opportunity to measure programs and make sure the money is used and being utilized the way we planned," Taylor said.

Over the next few months, the United Way will also talk to companies about contributing to the campaign.

"We're just trying to get in to talk with companies that have not had a United Way campaign in the past and individually have not given to the United Way," he said.

People who give at least .6 percent of their annual salary, or one hour of their wages per month, can qualify to win the Fair Share Challenge Volkswagen Beetle. Of those who qualify, the United Way will draw a total of 21 people who can win the car, which will be awarded at the closing event on Dec. 3. The car is donated by Frema Motors.