The United Way of Southern Chester County kicked off its 2008-09 fund-raising campaign last week, with an ambitious goal of $1,375,000 in donations.At the kickoff celebration, held at Dansko in Jennersville last Thursday evening, Board President Steve Conary discussed the organization's financial goals for the upcoming year as well as several seed programs that will soon be under way.
The goal of $1.3 million, Conary said, is close to what the organization raised last year and is still within reach for this year despite recent economic setbacks and an unstable stock market.
"We're all facing these problems, but a lot of the folks that we help are facing them even more than we are," Conary said. "We can't wait until state or local or federal governments create the programs to help these folks - we need to take the opportunity now."
Conary also revealed three new initiatives the United Way is working on for the 2009-09 season to proactively address community needs.
The United Way will partner with area Rotary Clubs to provide one-on one financial counseling with the goal of helping recipients become self-sufficient.
"This is basic budgeting," Conary said. "How to take advantage of the programs that are out there we see too often the same people coming in for assistance - how can we help them to provide for their families with dignity and prideft"
Second, the United Way Mentoring Agencies task team will develop workshops for agencies under the organization to help them become more efficient and effective, teaching them how to stretch every dollar.
And finally, the volunteerism task team will help match volunteers from area schools, businesses and other organizations with the groups who could benefit from their individual expertise.
"How we can identify the skill sets we have in our community - and we have a lot - and match those up to the needs of the agencies identified," Conary said.
He also took time to thank the contributor that help keep the agency running through their contributions, particularly at a time when many are feeling the financial pinch.
"We've got a lot going on, and we can't do this without your help," Conary said. "We appreciate your interest and support."
Executive Director Carrie Freeman offered additional options for helping the United Way beyond financial contributions, which included posting yard signs promoting the "Live Here-Give Here" campaign. Freeman also volunteered to speak about the United Way at any upcoming functions.
"We have a lot of good news to share but I can easily communicate the needs that truly exist down here," Freeman said.
For additional information on how to contribute to the United Way of Southern Chester County, call 610-444-4357.