United we stand

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With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season before us, sometimes things fall through the cracks and aren’t on the radar.

We can’t let the United Way of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry be one of those things that falls through the cracks. Executive Director of the United Way Karen Turchetto reminds you that the UW campaign ends on December 15. “We have collections right through to the end of December. I think we have such a realistic target this year at $622,500 and we’re more than halfway there already, well over where we were last year at this time,” she said. “We had some wonderful expectations because the need is there and agencies are still asking for the need but obviously our community has faced some problems over the last couple of years. No matter how you look at it, Domtar had a big impact on our campaigns but with them gone so are the $800,000 campaigns. We’d like to have that kind of money in the bank but we’ve had to readjust our needs to reflect the economic times.”

Turchetto says the reality is that as much as people are working at new jobs in our community from a salary point of view, they are not the same as when Domtar was here. It makes a difference in the community. For the past six years, the United Way has reached out to include the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. “Those areas are different in that we don’t have storefronts in those areas, but our agencies that are located in Cornwall provide services in those areas. So that has its own set of issues because the local community folks are not seeing storefronts. They’re always wondering where we are in those communities but we don’t have the resources to put United Way storefronts in every one of those counties. Therefore we can only do it by service delivery.”

Turchetto says they’re probably about 4% above where they were in rural collections. “Now that we’ve gone into those areas and done some work, the return there is up about 4%. What we do offer in that area, although people may not immediately see it, [unless you’re looking to use one of the 18 agencies] is our ‘Success by 6’ program that works very well in the rural communities.”

Success by 6 is an early childhood development initiative dedicated to providing all children with a good start in life. It helps to ensure that children aged 0 to 6-years old develop the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical skills they need as they enter school.

If the United Way goal is not met this year, the impact is simple. “Unfortunately the agencies will have to take a cut (in money) and that’s always difficult for us. With people being out of work, the agencies are starting to look at waiting lists. In social services, when something bad happens in the community, the services provided by United Way agencies is needed more than ever but if the money isn’t there, we are forced to cut funding,” she said.

Turchetto says, “they’ve never had to refuse an agency some funding help, it’s just when goals are not met, that funding help is reduced.”

Turchetto talks of a meeting she attended recently for the Eastern region United Ways, focusing on the smaller United Ways that may have been impacted by manufacturing cut backs such as the case in Cornwall. “We’re having to look more to the private donor sector and having to do some more work around major donors and always going back to the big businesses that have the big head offices in Toronto and Montreal that can maybe help us out a little more if they have a small company or franchise in the smaller markets,” says Turchetto.

She says it’s working in some instances but there is still a lot of work to do.

When asked what she would say to the individual donors to United Way, her message is simple. “Give generously. When you invest in United Way you’re reaching more people in more ways than any single charity because you’re helping your entire community. The money that’s raised here stays in this community and I think that’s very, very important.”

Another important issue that she addresses when speaking to various community groups is administrative costs. “The administrative costs for our agency run about 4%, 16% is used to run the campaign and 80% of the funds raised go to the agencies and back into the community.” Four percent would cover part of my wage and to keep this building (on Water Street) going,” said Turchetto. “I would really want to thank the community. To all those great people out there that are giving so generously this year. We’ve seen an increase in so many of the workplace campaigns which we’re very excited about. I feel very positive this year. There’s much more involvement this year, much more enthusiasm this year,” said Turchetto.

She said having Danny Aikman as Campaign Chair has helped as well, since he’s a born and bred native of Cornwall and has a ton of connections.

However, the date is looming. The United Way wraps up its campaign on December 15. We want it to be a successful day for the campaign and therefore for the agencies and services that provide the help people need in tough times. More so than ever, the United Way is needed.

If you have a couple of extra coins in your pocket, consider sharing them with 18 agencies and hundreds of people who need help.

You may not be able to see how your money can be divvied up but don’t worry about that part—The United Way of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry can do magic with every penny that comes in.

I’m John Divinski.

Organizations: United Way, Domtar

Geographic location: Cornwall, Eastern, Toronto Montreal Water Street

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