"This meeting will help us lay the foundation for the coming year," explained United Way Executive Director David English.
He told a story of calling on a family living outside Cloverdale who had no running water or electricity.
"Someone thought they should be turned in for child neglect," said English. "They turned out to be one of the finest families I have ever met. I spent about three hours with them. They were so excited that day that their oldest daughter was going to graduate from high school. She was the first one on either side of their families to do so."
English used the story to illustrate the need that is present in Putnam County for agencies like Putnam County Family support Services, the Youth Development Commission, Johnson Nichols Health Clinic and others.
One of the issues facing many of the agencies receiving support from the United Way is getting out the message of what they can provide to the community.
Part of this meeting was devoted to discussing ways to make sure people know about the agencies and what they do.
Some of the suggestions to help circulate their information included preparing short fact sheets, providing information to companies with internal newsletters and having face-to-face meetings with employees.
Linda Merkel, executive director of the Putnam County Youth Development Commission, spoke about her agency going into the schools to talk with teachers and administrators so they would be aware of their programs.
"I'm not sure we have always done a good job of saying we are a United Way agency but we can do that more," she said.
Cari Cox, executive director of Putnam County Family Support Services, supported the idea of giving information directly to employees and staff of corporations and organizations.
"I think it helps in educating employees if they know who we are and what we do. They see us in person and get a better connection," she said.
Agency members also asked to be able to speak to board members of the United Way.
"It's always good to put a face with the organization even if it's just a 15-minute meeting," said several members.
Other discussions took place concerning the current status of last year's United Way Campaign. English reported that they raised $151,000, 14 percent short of their goal of $175,000.
"So far only five United Way organizations in Indiana met their goal. Part of the problem for us was that individual contributions were really down this year," he said.
There were 15 local agencies helped by United Way last year. They include the American Red Cross Wabash Valley Chapter, Area 7 Agency on Aging, A-way Home Shelter, Putnam County Family Support Services Inc., Putnam County Youth Development Commission and Reading Improvement Center, Hope Haven Horse Farm, Johnson Nichols Health Clinic, Mental Health America, Putnam County Chaplaincy Association, Putnam County Comprehensive Services, Putnam County Council on the Aging and Aged, Summer Enrichment Program and the YMCA of Clay County.
The United Way provides help to several Putnam County agencies, which in turn help people in the community. English noted 95 to 98 percent of the money raised by United Way stays in Putnam County.
The Putnam County United Way Annual Dinner is set for March 13 at the Walden Inn Conference Center. This is a fundraiser for the organization. Seats are $30 per person or $200 for a table of eight. Local area agencies will be there with information about what they offer the community.
"This is Putnam County's United Way, it can only be as strong as the people here make it," concluded English.
Individuals, organizations or businesses interested in helping the United Way can contact English at 653-5638 or by email at email@example.com.