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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

United Way near goal despite tough economy

Saturday, January 10, 2009

As the economy worsens and people tighten their belts, the demand for Putnam County United Way Agency services continues to rise.

These same agencies are facing cuts from federal and state funding programs and are relying on the generosity of the community in which they operate.

"From our standpoint, we would be seriously deficit if it weren't for the United Way," said Youth Development Services Executive Director Linda Merkel. "We would see a significant decrease in the number of programs we are able to provide. For example our Coats for Kids program in Putnam County gave out almost 700 coats. That program alone shows the impact on the numbers of children who received coats, hats and mittens."

This year's United Way of Putnam County Annual Fundraising campaign was to raise $145,000. They are at 95 percent of that goal.

"I am pleased with the community's response," said United Way of Putnam County Executive Director David English. "This is not my United Way; it is Putnam County's."

While English is very pleased with the response his agency has received from the community, he is still finding it necessary to ask for more.

"The final stage of any campaign is always difficult, but fortunately there is still time to be part of the stabilization of our community, as a corporate donor or an individual donor," he noted.

English adds that he believes there are still some businesses that have not jumped on board with the United Way program because they don't see the impact these programs have on the community.

"More than 97 percent of the funds raised in this campaign remain in the county to help serve at risk residents," he said. "That's a lot of services."

Still, it is not enough.

"United Way of Putnam County is only going to be as strong as the community makes it," said English.

"With federal and state funding cuts, health insurance rates rising and other funding sources lost, some agencies are getting hit. We do have some that are doing very well. We need them all," added English.

For Putnam County Family Support, the funds provided by the United Way are vital because much of their funding comes from grants that require matching funds.

"Without the United Way funds we can't meet the matches and can lose our grants," said executive director Cari Cox. "We rely on the United Way funds to help us be able to get grants to provide services including prevention and intervention services for many families and children in our community. This includes home visitation for at-risk families and help for victims of domestic violence."

For Kristi Menke at Hope Haven Horse Farm in Coatesville, having United Way funds enables her organization to help special needs, at-risk low-income children.

"It is absolutely incredible how much it helps these kids both mentally and physically," said Menke. "We are also able to report outcomes from this program thanks to the funding provided by United Way. That helps us show the effectiveness of the program."

English encourages employers and individuals to call the United Way of Putnam County to discuss where funding goes and how it helps the entire community.

This year's campaign theme was to raise 319.38 pounds of one-dollar bills ($145,000). The amount raised so far is 315.55 pounds or $143,000.

"I know we are going to make our goal. I'm hoping we can even go over it," said English. "As the new executive director of the United Way here, I am experiencing the annual campaign for the first time. Thank you so much for what has been done. Now, please take the opportunity to be part of the solution as we strive to make our goal. This is your goal and your community. We still need your help."

Donations can be made by calling 653-5638 or by mailing them to the United Way of Putnam County at 2 S. Jackson Street, Greencastle.

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