By Frank Lewis
Several weeks ago the United Way of Scioto and Adams Counties reported donations were at an all-time low. Now, one of the agencies served by United Way has sent out a letter asking for increased support from the community.
“As the Director and fiscal officer for the Southern Ohio Task Force on Domestic Violence, I make the deposits of incoming donations,” Lou Ann Hoffer, director of the Task Force, wrote. “Each time our United Way allocation comes, I think to myself, ‘What a wonderful gift United Way dollars are from the members of our community.’ These dollars are not tax dollars – they are hard-earned dollars given to United Way agencies direct from the hard working people who earned them. I know that most of us have very tight budgets, and each paycheck is probably spent before it is received, leaving little for anything other than necessities. However, some of you, through the generous spirit of your hearts, have chosen to give a portion of your money so that other people can receive services that they might not otherwise be able to afford. In the case of my agency, which serves victims of domestic violence, your dollars help make our community just a little safer and more peaceful for all of us.”
While the amount the average person donates may seem small to some, Hoffer said it is big.
“It is big to the people who give it and it is big to the people who benefit from it,” Hoffer said. “It is much like a snowflake – one doesn’t make much of an impression, but thousands of them joined together cover the ground in glistening beauty. Together, our dollars make a difference in the lives of those around us.”
Hoffer said as the economy grows worse, people have to spend more money for survival and have less money to give to charities.
“Sadly, this has affected United Way over the years,” Hoffer said. “Their donations have shrunk to the point that they have had to suspend payments to their agencies until October. This translates into reduced services by the agencies they help – including ours. Unless things begin to ‘look up’ they may even have to drop some agencies altogether and permanently reduce the amounts they give to others.”
Hoffer went on to say – “when United Way comes knocking at your checkbook’s door, remember that while, yes, it is money they are asking you to give, that is not all it is. What you are really being asked to do is to become an indispensable player on a team that is working together to improve the quality of life in our own community – the place where we live, work, raise our children, and dream of a good life. Be kind- be giving, be generous, for, while we may be on the mountain today, who knows when we may find ourselves or a family member in the valley that requires one of the services that gifts to United Way are making possible.”
United Way has recently had to make some major decisions in its funding because of the decline in revenue.
“Given the challenges in our community and a declining economy, the United Way will be forced to reduce award amounts and curtail the number of agencies that we can support for the current funding cycle. Work place giving, the closure of businesses and private donations have decreased significantly in our community,” Mary Ann Miars-Peercy, United Way Scioto & Adams Counties executive director, said. “Difficult choices must be made when limited resources are available.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.