With less than two months to go in its 2021 campaign, United Way of Wayne County has raised nearly half of its goal of $850,000.
The campaign will officially end Dec. 31, said Sherry Archibald, United Way executive director.
She said the Frontrunners raised $255,000, 30% of the total campaign goal, during their five-week campaign, which started July 13 and ended Aug. 20.
Frontrunners are investors who host their campaign early, setting the standard for the rest of the campaign. They also inspire others to participate in the United Way campaign by leading the pack.
Archibald noted that this time last year, the campaign was at 51% of its $850,000 goal.
“We recognize that we’ve had a few challenges this year,” she said. “We really want to make sure that our community knows that this campaign is open, and that this campaign is what really impacts the lives of so many through these programs.
“If we’re not able to strengthen these programs and fill the gaps for some of these programs, we won’t be able to serve as many people. And it’s really important that our community knows that.”
Archibald said the United Way has had the opportunity to create partnerships in the community when there are challenges so solutions can be found.
“Through COVID, we’ve created several strong partnerships, one of them through Wayne County Public Schools,” Archibald said. “There are many things we’ve been able to do over the last year and a half. One of them is during COVID. When it first hit, we recognized there were going to be hundreds of students that because they were not in school, they were not going to be getting a healthy meal. We were able to partner with the (YMCA) and deploy hundreds of volunteers to be able to get meals to them during that time period, breakfast and lunch.
“We also partnered with WCPS to make sure that there were park and learn sites, allowing Wi-Fi capabilities for those who did not have access so that they could be able to do some type of remote learning during such a difficult time.”
Archibald said this past summer, the United Way partnered with WCPS and The First Church, along with many other faith-based community organizations and nonprofits, to bring Unlimited Impact, a tutoring program, to Wayne County to help hundreds of students who were suffering from learning loss during the pandemic.
For almost two years, the United Way has been partnering with the Wayne County Health Department to provide support while its staff is at vaccine sites and testing sites.
“We couldn’t do that without the community campaign investment,” Archibald said.
United Way campaign chairman Bethany Perry said that a lot of people don’t realize just how much the organization does in the community.
“We are looking for issues in the community and working strongly and passionately to find the solutions for those issues,” Perry said. “So when we are sharing the message and mission of who we are and what we do, we are asking people to contribute to come alongside us and partner with us and help sustain these programs so that they’re available in our community for the future.
“We say that poverty is not a prerequisite to need United Way, but United Way is for everyone. With the partnerships that we have and the efforts and the organizations that we support, collectively we can’t do that alone. So when we ask others to give, we’re asking that they ensure that children in our community have the resources they need for early education and reading readiness.”
Perry said United Way is asking for donations so it can promise the elderly population that it will receive nutritious meals daily, to help save young girls from human trafficking and ensure the entire community will have resources and assistance when a hurricane or pandemic strikes.
It’s not been easy even this year, she said.
“We recognize that many staffs are taking on more work, creating challenges to leading a campaign,” Perry said. “And five years ago, two of our major investors gave more than $100,000 each, and today they’re just a little over $10,000 each.”
Perry said there are a lot of nonprofits in this community doing amazing work.
One of those is WAGES Meals on Wheels.
“They receive federal funding for that, however, that funding is for someone who is 60 or older,” Perry said. “We know that our community has individuals who are 55 or 58, but because of a life changing situation or disability, they would not receive a nutritious meal without the support of United Way helping and partnering with WAGES. This is where United Way is able to fill that gap.”
She said if United Way doesn’t meet its goal this year, it will mean challenges in giving support to other nonprofits. She said it could mean that some people in the community won’t get the help they need next year.
“I think one of the big challenges with this year is we’re trying to get back to normal as a community, but we still have so many challenges and restrictions that it’s been a lot more work for our major investors and also for us to be able to get the message out,” Perry said.
“Because we’re not really doing a lot of large convening with groups, it’s hard for us to share the message. We’ve been privileged that some employers are allowing us to go in, but it might mean that we have to do multiple presentations, and we’re happy to do that. We’ve just seen so many changes with our employee campaigns as well. We know that they’re a vital part of our campaign as well.”
Archibald said this year’s campaign will go through the end of the year, but there will be a finale event Dec. 2. During the event, the United Way will announce where the campaign stands. It will also do a drawing for the Fair Share Challenge, with a prize of $10,000.
She said fair share givers pledge an hour’s pay per month for a year for hourly employees and 0.6% for salaried employees.
Anyone wanting to make a donation can go online to unitedwayne.org or call United Way at 919-735-3591.
New this year, when a Wayne County Public Schools employee pledges one hour’s pay per month for a year, the employee’s school will be eligible for a drawing for a $5,000 grant and drawings for five $500 classroom grants.