Can our community count on you? Can I count on you? I am banking on affirmative answers to both of those questions.
I serve on the board of Sedalia-Pettis County United Way, and this year fellow board members called upon me to serve as the chairman for our annual fundraising campaign. It’s a daunting task on many levels, but people whom I respect said they had faith I can meet the challenge. I cannot afford to let them down. Bigger still, I cannot afford to let our community down.
But to achieve that goal, I will need a lot of help from a lot of people — including you.
We kicked off the campaign Thursday with an event at Convention Hall, where we announced this year’s campaign goal: $500,000. A half million. This is where our campaign slogan is derived: A half to make us whole. We are seeking a half million dollars to help make our community whole, to continue improving the lives of people in Sedalia and Pettis County who need a little help to get by day-to-day.
Many of you have been United Way supporters for years, and we are grateful for your commitment and hopeful that we can count on your continued contributions. But there are many who have not joined our cause, some because they don’t have a clear understanding of what United Way and its 22 local agencies do for area residents.
The United Way is a nonprofit, umbrella organization that raises funds to support local social service outreach organizations. The dollars raised here stay here. The United Way board selects the agencies that will receive funding from its campaign based on their contributions to basic safety net needs in our community.
Our United Way agencies provide food for the hungry, education opportunities for youth, support for the elderly, safe havens for those in danger and assistance for those with disabilities. Many residents would be surprised by the number of people who rely on United Way agencies to get by from day to day. For those who have not joined our campaign in the past, I ask you to consider making a small sacrifice to help support the good work our agencies do every day.
I have another question for you: Can you do without one soda or cup of coffee each week? If you can make that small sacrifice, just $1 per week, consider what some of our United Way agencies can do with $50:
• CACTUS can provide four backpacks loaded with school supplies for local students in need.
• Child Safe can provide two gas cards to help with transportation to Children’s Mercy Hospital for sexual assault exams (there are no trained providers in our county).
• Citizens Against Spouse Abuse (CASA) can provide 1.5 hours of crisis intervention (CASA provided 590 hours of crisis intervention over the first six months of 2014).
• The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri can provide 625 meals; with its resources, the food bank can turn $1 into 12.5 meals.
That is incredible impact — and you can help us help more of our neighbors.
A key element to being a United Way agency is not only providing needed services and outreach, but also being accountable for the dollars it receives. Each year, our agencies must submit financial documents detailing their finances so the board can ensure those donated dollars are being spent appropriately. And since Sedalia-Pettis County United Way has just one employee — Executive Director Linda Kirk — less than 13 percent of our budget is spent on administration, which means more dollars being used to support local residents.
Over the next few weeks, the Democrat will help us share personal stories of how United Way dollars made a difference in the lives of local residents and families. Those can be your dollars, magnified by United Way agencies to make great improvements in the quality of life for our friends and neighbors.
So I will ask again: Can our community count on you? Can I count on you? Please help us reach our goal: A half to make us whole.