Opinion

United Way advances the common good

The United Way of Kitsap County is one month into the 2008 annual fundraising campaign and so far it looks promising. However, it is too early to be too hopeful. Last year at this same time we did not have our pledge from the Boeing Employees; this year that pledge is in, unfortunately it is $18,000 less than last year. The good news is that Harrison Medical Center, under the leadership of President and CEO Scott Bosch, set a campaign goal this year of $150,000 and I received a report the other day that it has pledges of more than $162,000.

This year more than ever in the recent past the United Way campaign has to do well. With the economy in the shape it is in, with housing foreclosures reaching epidemic proportions and gas prices as high as they are, many individuals and families in our community are in serious trouble.

In recent studies provided to me by United Way of America, given the cost of living today, a family needs to earn at least 2.5 times the federal poverty level to be considered financially stable in most communities. The percentage of working families who earn less than this has stagnated over the past decade. According to the report, about 23 percent of working families fall below that level. More than one-third of lower-income working families spend greater than 40 percent of their income on housing. On average, a family needs to earn at least $15 per hour so that housing does not overwhelm their monthly budget.

Today, here in Kitsap County many of our non-profit agencies are being inundated with requests for help by families just to get enough money to put gas in their cars so they can get to work and keep their jobs. A collaborative partnership is now underway with St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Bremerton Foodline, Kitsap Community Resources and United Way to develop a program called Gas 4 Work to help those working poor who have jobs get to work.

I applaud the employees of Harrison Medical Center for their special efforts and recognition that in these economic times when things are especially tough and trying that a little extra effort is needed. Kitsap County Government is getting ready to kick-off their annual campaign drive for United Way and Jim Avery, County Assessor and Bud Harris, Director of Information Services has it right. They came up with the slogan for the county campaign, “The tougher the time, the more the need.”

The United Way campaign helps to support 36 of Kitsap County’s most critical health and human service agencies. They depend on United Way to help them continue to operate critical programs in our community that help keep lower-income, working poor and vulnerable families warm, safe and food on the table.

I realize that nearly everyone is being affected by the current economic conditions, some more than others, but I ask each of you to help. Our campaign this year is Advancing the Common Good, Give, Advocate, Volunteer: Live United. This is not just a slogan; it’s a call to action. Our work at United Way requires collaboration across all sectors – business, big and small, elected officials, nonprofits, academia, the faith community, labor, the media, parents and neighbors. Working together, we can accomplish things that no organization, no individual and no government can accomplish on its own. Right now, today, we must and we can reach out a hand and influence the conditions in our community. We can help those in our community who are struggling; we can make a difference in the lives of children, families, the vulnerable and the aging. We can advance the common good for the whole community. Please, consider making a tax exempt gift to United Way. Your help is needed more than ever before.

David L. Foote

Executive Director

United Way of Kitsap County

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