United Way expects to meet goal

The organization has already reached 70 percent of its goal and is expecting to hear back from two or three more businesses soon, which could add a significant amount towards the goal, said United Way campaign co-chair Steve Neely.

The local goal for each county includes about $1.1 million for Clark County, $235,000 for Champaign County and $100,000 for Madison County. Last year, United Way distributed $696,861 to Clark County, $194,426 to Champaign County and $127,907 to Madison County.

United Way fell short of its previous fund-raising goal and had to cut funding by 15.5 percent to its recipient organizations.

Officials from the American Red Cross and Rocking Horse Community Health Center, which both took big funding cuts, said they’re happy to hear that United Way is back on track.

The Red Cross took a $45,000 cut last cycle, which forced it to eliminate its Service to Armed Forces program. The Red Cross’ disaster assistance program also took a hit. Lynne Gump, executive director of the American Red Cross Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter, which includes Clark County, said the cut made it more difficult for the organization to train volunteers and offer preparedness classes. She added that the Red Cross still delivered the disaster assistance required for the community despite the cuts.

Rocking Horse’s CHAMP program, which coordinates multiple services for patients with special health care needs, was nearly eliminated after all itsfunding got cut, said Rocking Horse Chief Executive Officer Chris Cook. The future of the program depends on this cycle’s funding.

“We made the commitment that we were going to maintain the service for a year and absorb the loss on our budget and then re-evaluate after a year,” Cook said. “If the funding returns, then we’ll be able to continue to support it. But if the funding is at the same level as last year, we’ll have to re-evaluate.”

Last year’s failure to meet the funding goal was a result of the leadership change, said Executive Director Kerry Pedraza. She took over for former director Doug Lineberger in October of 2013.

“Doug Lineberger retired and then our development officer left to take another position,” Pedraza said. “I think the transition of going from one executive director to another caught up in the overlap of the campaigns.”

The decision to cut funding for the Red Cross and Rocking Horse was difficult and heartbreaking, Pedraza said. She said the committee made the decision believing that the organizations would be able to find funding elsewhere.

Cook said he was pleased with the United Way’s good news and hopes it means Rocking Horse will get its full funding back. The $69,000 cut last year that would have funded the CHAMP program took the organization by surprise, he added.

“We got cut about 70 percent last year — more than expected,” Cook said. “We expected something less. We didn’t expect that much.”

Rocking Horse is hoping to get $20,000-30,000 to keep the CHAMP program running, said Cook. It is also hoping for continued funding for its Bridges to Health Care program, which received $31,000 in the last funding cycle.

Despite last fiscal year’s cuts, the relationship between Rocking Horse and United Way has always been good, Cook said.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to foster that good relationship with them again this year,” Cook said. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to turn in a good application for the funding that we need this year, and the work is on us to turn in a good application and make sure that we can get that funding back.”

The American Red Cross is hoping to receive funding this cycle to reinstate Service to Armed Forces, Gump said. The Red Cross will also seek funding for disaster services, the smoke detector program and Support Our Volunteers Services, which supports volunteer training and engagement.

Gump is impressed with what United Way accomplishes.

“I think it’s through the power of the community,” Gump said. “United Way makes it so easy for you and I, people on the average income, to make a real impact on the community. We count on our donors for everything, and United Way is one of the biggest donors we have.”

Pedraza said United Way has tried to be realistic about its funding goals. The goal for this fiscal year is a little less than last fiscal year’s goal, but it’s still a stretch.

“We wanted to create an environment in which we all reached for something,” she said.

For this funding cycle, Security National Bank announced it would match grants to any company joining United Way for the first time.

“It’s been going on through the entire campaign,” Pedraza said. “Several companies have taken advantage of that and we have been so thankful to take advantage of them doing that.”

Neely said the goal was to get $10,000 from Security National’s campaign, and the numbers are close and most likely will surpass that goal.

Pedraza also attributed this funding cycle’s success to campaign co-chairs Steve and Mary Alice Neely.

“They have gotten the message out to a lot of people who may not have known about United Way, as well as people who know about United Way but have been affected by the recession and had to reduce their philanthropy to us,” Pedraza said. “They have been able to re-engage people.”

Steve Neely said the strategy was to use staff, many of whom have worked on the campaigns for years, and bring in a few new people from around the county. Neely said the organization wanted to get as many people from as many different communities and organizations as possible involved.

“You don’t have to be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates to be a philanthropist,” Neely said. “You can be a philanthropist for 20 cents a day.”

Neely said he is very grateful to the people who work the campaign, and those who gave in Clark County in general.

“There’s some good things happening all over Clark County and Springfield,” he said. “We’ve come through a recession and tough times and things seem to be going well in Springfield, so we asked for help and that’s the great thing about America; Americans are willing to help out when you ask them to.”

The United Way is actively seeking proposals from non-profits for funding for the coming year’s campaign, said Pedraza.

Any local organization that is seeking funding can go to United Way’s website to see if it qualifies to apply for funding. Once all the proposals come in, Pedraza said United Way has volunteers who read through them and appropriate funds based on how much the campaign brought in.

Local non-profit organizations seeking funding from the United Way can apply online at http://www.uwccmc.org/fund-distribution-requests. The deadline to apply is noon Feb. 26.

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