Over 2,000 Southern Chester County residents donated cash to the United Way of Southern Chester County this past year, helping the organization reach its fundraising goal for the 2011-12 season – but just barely.
Executive director Carrie Freeman said that the non-profit service organization, which provides funding and support to numerous area agencies and families, received a $50,000 anonymous donation at the last minute that put them ahead of their $1.2 million goal.
'Without that, we would have been just under our goal,' she said, adding that the organization eventually took in $1.22 million.
Those funds, Freeman said, go on to provide funding for 32 different programs that serve a wide array of human needs.
'This is only possible because over 2000 southern Chester County residents made donations,' she said.
What she would like to see, she said, are donations across the board from everyone who is capable of making even a small donation of just $20.
'What's important is that everyone gives at whatever level they are comfortable with,' she said. Each year we see the impact United Way dollars have on making our little corner of the world a better place to live and we can't do it without broad community support.'
At their annual kickoff meeting last Thursday, United Way board president Karen Myers said that many area agencies have seen either a reduction or a total loss of funding in the past year, making what the United Way's contributions all the more important.
'It's really up to donors like us to make up the difference, so that we can continue to strengthen and build our community,' Myers said.
Myers said that the United Way addresses sustainability and independence as much as emergent or urgent needs, by offering programs that help people learn how to navigate their lives in a variety of ways.
'More and more of our neighbors have been requesting and receiving food … (and) aid to pay their electric bills,' she said. 'Stability and sustainability programs are crucial to our drive to improve the social conditions in our communities.'
Teaching basic financial skills to help a family learn to live within their budgets means less trips to agencies like the United Way or the Kennett Food Cupboard for their needs, Myers added.
It isn't all bad news either, according to Myers: there are many success stores of individuals and families who managed to make it through tough times and emerged on the other side ready to give back.
One woman, she recounted, approached United Way about adopting a family through the holiday season.
'The reason she wanted to do it, is that someone had done it for her and her children when they were struggling just a few years before,' she said. 'We love to hear these success stories and love to be a part of.'
Among the area agencies receiving funds from UWSCC this year are:
Kennett Food Cupboard: $26,540 Senior adult daycare: $21,540
Adult literacy one-on-one tutoring: $44,800
An additional $82,000 is allotted for emergency aid for heat, electricity and housing, while scholarships for low income families in need of daycare topped the list at $100,620.
Freeman said the organization is shooting for the same financial goal as last year, at $1.2 million.
'It's a modest goal for us, but it's still a stretch,' she said.