Opinion

United Way needs more corporate and business friends

To put it as simply as possible, the most effective way to deliver the most assistance to people in need in our community who are in distress is to give to United Way. Here in Kitsap County this is particularly true. United Way carefully and thoughtfully distributes the community’s donations to nonprofit agencies that can prove they make a difference. Money donated is carefully distributed to organizations on the basis of demonstrated results. Examples:

 • Day Care and Early Childhood programs that protect children while parents are working and who carefully prepare children to begin school.

 • The Red Cross’ preparations for natural disasters, including food and shelter for disaster victims and who work closely with our local military families during lengthy deployments of the military member.

 • Volunteer Chore and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) services for the elderly and disabled.

 • Food banks that are seeing 25 percent to 40 percent more families each week.

 • Shelter for distressed families.

 • Low-cost or free dental care for Kitsap County low-income children without a dental home.

 • Prescription discount cards for Kitsap County residents without medical insurance.

This fall’s United Way campaign has a seemingly modest goal: To do better than last year’s $1.72 million. Actually, that is a very ambitious goal. The very economic downturn that has been increasing the need for human services is making it harder for many donors to give as much as they used to.

Calls for assistance are up by as much as one-third since last year. The surge is largely driven by individuals and families in need of emergency help with utilities, food, gas, rent and temporary shelter. That is what happens when people who have been making ends meet — if barely — suddenly lose their jobs.

For many it may be harder to give more, although we ask those who are contributor’s to give an extra dollar per pay period if you can. But the campaign’s leaders have another plan: Get more donors. This can be done by enlisting broader workplace support – more companies/businesses willing to let the United Way ask their employees to join the effort. Too many medium and small-sized companies (less than 50 employees) consider it a bother to let their workers be approached by a United Way representative. Combined, they employ thousands of people who aren’t given the opportunity to respond to a workplace campaign.

If, say, 2,000 of those potential donors were to become actual donors, it would go a long way toward helping United Way agencies assist the growing number of families facing economic distress. Workers will respond generously, given the opportunity. What is needed now are more companies willing to give them that chance.

Please contact United Way of Kitsap County at (360) 377-8505 today and ask a United Way Campaign Executive to come and show you how your business can help.

Dave Foote

Executive director

United Way of Kitsap County

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