The Hampshire County United Way — along with nearby Allegany, Garrett and Mineral counties — has begun its annual community fundraising campaign that will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide funding to nonprofit programs here.
The effort extends through March.
County United Way allows donors to invest their dollars locally. In fact, 99 cents of every dollar stays in each of the 4 counties in the region. County United Way reviews requests based on health, education and financial stability. When granted funds, organizations are held to a high standard of expectations, including quarterly reporting, to ensure program dollars are used as intended.
New with the 2020 Campaign fundraising dollars is an opportunity for any nonprofit organization to apply for Live United Grants, which are poised to broaden United Way’s reach to areas of the region that have historically not been touched.
The organization sees this as a great way to truly be a leading organization that can assist as many people as possible, in every corner of every county it serves.
Also new with 2020 funding is major program focus on ALICE households. These are households with earned income which might be struggling to meet basic needs and who would otherwise not qualify for traditional resources. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.
For over 60 years, individuals and community partners have entrusted United Way to serve as one of the largest community fundraisers in each county.
“When a donor directs their dollars to Mineral County, as an example, those dollars stay in that county,” County United Way Executive Director Juli McCoy points out. “We don’t use dollars from another county to address needs elsewhere.”
Each county in the group has representatives to help with the decision-making process, including how dollars are distributed.
“It is a unique experience to the volunteers who participate in our allocations process,” she said. “They not only become aware of some of the health and human service issues we face, but they get to have a stake in distributing grant dollars to address those issues.”
Donors can watch their donations at work.
Amanda Mangan and Logan Mills, both radio personalities from Allegany Radio Corporation, are sharing the role of campaign chair. Allegany Radio Corporation has been a longtime partner of United Way, providing opportunities for live broadcasts at events, public service announcements and other promotional services.
Business campaigns kick-off at varying times throughout the year with UPS and First Energy serving as 2 of the early fundraisers. Another community partner that offers a United Way campaign to employees is CBIZ, where a committee forms fun opportunities to fundraise, including a spirit night at Fox’s Pizza in downtown Cumberland from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 18, as well as at Mezzo’s from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24.
In addition, employees participate in payroll deduction, which contributes a large amount of dollars to the campaign.
“It’s important that our employees use this opportunity to invest in such a broad giving platform instead of trying to choose 1 or 2 organizations to support,” CBIZ Campaign Coordinator Teresa Wharton said. “United Way allows donors to support an overall campaign, which leverages those dollars, sometimes ten times over.”
United Way also has a history of convening other nonprofits to promote working together for the good of the community. Generally referred to as United Way agencies, these include Associated Charities, AHEC West, HRDC, YMCA, Friends Aware, Garrett Mentors, Cindy’s Fund, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of the Laurel Highlands, Family Junction, Family Crisis Resource Center, Garrett County Community Action, Salvation Army, Western Maryland Food Bank, Pressley Ridge, Eastern Regional Family Resource Network, Piedmont Library, Region 8 Planning and Development Council, Allegany Arts Council, NAILS, Make-a-Wish of the Mid-Atlantic, Cumberland Neighborhood Housing, Developmental Center and Workshop, Mineral Family Resource Network and Catholic Charities.
In 2019, United Way was proud to expand its partnership to CASA of Allegany County, Local Management Board, Allegany Youth Enrichment Program Services (AYEPS), A New Beginning – Women’s Recovery Home and Slanesville Elementary.
These are all organizations that have provided United Way with very specific information to confirm their willingness to work cohesively and in partnership with one another to reduce duplication and create opportunities for a healthy community.
Partnerships are not inclusive of current program funding, which extends to Slanesville Elementary, Energy Express, Tri-Towns After School Program, and Foster Grandparents. Program funding reaches thousands of people through basic needs assistance, keeping them in their homes, providing food, dental services, life-saving prescription medication assistance, transportation safety for children, gas cards for cancer patients, after school and mentor programs and more.
McCoy said that “2019 has been a busy year; a lot of behind-the-scenes work has happened to prepare us for modernizing our approach to meeting the needs in the communities we serve. We are excited for our future and expanding on, not only the number of people we help, but how we do that based on where their needs lie. We cannot accomplish these goals without support from the community and we appreciate each and every dollar.”
United Way is also responsible for a number of services and events across the region, including Stuff the Bus in Allegany, Garrett and Mineral Counties, which is a 1-day event to collect school supplies in each county to distribute to public schools, Garrett College and Allegany County libraries.
The items are used to supplement needs throughout the school year. Over 16,000 items were collected in August and a number of businesses throughout the region served as collection sites leading up to the event.
Little Pantries have been placed at public locations throughout Allegany, Mineral and Hampshire counties to house hygiene items and coordination made with Garrett County businesses provided hygiene items to Northern and Southern Middle Schools.
Days of Caring and Sharing were once again successful in Allegany and Mineral Counties with work happening to expand in Hampshire County. The organization is a partner in the Mission of Mercy project, which will be held in October 2020 to provide free dental services.