Every community has a better chance of flourishing when there’s an organization dedicated to providing the funds needed to help their local, high-quality services and programs survive and expand. That’s exactly what the United Way of Ulster County does for our area.
There are many ways in which our organization contributes to a better quality of life, including but not limited to:
- We periodically will hold community forums, focus groups or even perform surveys for individuals in the area to help determine what the community needs and identify certain areas where we may be lacking in providing the people what they need.
- We often take part in community councils, too. During this time, we strive to find gaps in services that the community wants or needs and also try to come up with effective plans to meet those needs.
- Once possible programs are identified, we spend a great deal of time to ensure that we choose the right providers to give grants to. Grantees are always required to provide a solid plan with objectives that are easily measured. They also need to clearly show what kind of impact their program will have on the community if they’re chosen to receive the support to make it happen.
- These potential grantees and programs are thoroughly reviewed. We perform in-depth interviews with the staff. We observe what they do and how they manage any ongoing programs they’re already running. We also stringently go through the paperwork, documentation and other technical aspects that need to be in top shape for such programs.
- When we identify needs that are beginning to grow, whether one that has already been known to need attention or not, we take the lead in ensuring the proper development of programs necessary to meet those needs.
The United Way… there’s no other program quite like it and it’s been thriving for generations. A rabbi, priest, a woman from Denver and two ministers observed the need that was lingering for there to be a cooperative program in place to meet growing welfare needs in 1887. Their names?
- Rev. Myron W. Reed
- Msgr. William J.O’Ryan
- Rabbi William S. Friedman
- Dean H. Martyn Hart
- The Denver woman – Frances Wisebart Jacobs
Together, they were able to put together the first united campaign that brought together ten welfare and health agencies in an effort to help serve the community needs. In order to do this, they were to gather funds for charities in the area, be the go-to council for relief services, help people in need by counseling them and getting them referred to the proper people and agencies, and give emergency funds (grants) to those who they were unable to refer to another agency for the help they need.
Thus the United Way was born. In 1887 alone, this small group of people’s desire to help, their dedication and ability to put together such a group resulted in over $20,000 being raised. Over a decade later, the United Way still strives to and thrives on helping those in need and giving caring hearts the power needed to make a difference.
The Priorities of the United Way Around the World
United Way Worldwide has identified certain aspects of life that they believe are vital to survival and growth. A few of the policies that have been since developed in an effort to meeting the needs in these areas are outlined below…
The main goal that United Way has set for education is to dramatically decrease the rate of dropouts. By the year 2018, we hope to see school dropouts decreased by at least half. That would mean that almost 90 percent of high school seniors will graduate. That would be a great increase from the 74 percent that graduated in 2006.
Again, the goal is set to half the number… this time it’s to half the number of families who are not financially stable and to help them climb out of the lower-income brackets. That would mean those families where there is a parent or parents who work a total of fifty weeks or more during the year and have a total income of less than 250 percent of the current level set by the government for determining poverty who spend less than 40 percent of that income to pay for housing costs will rise to 82 percent by 2018 – that’s a big increase from only 64 percent who met those guidelines in 2006.
If you should ever find yourself in need, please don’t hesitate to locate the nearest chapter of the United Way in your area. At the same time, if you have the ability to donate, please do so! There are also a number of ways in which you can help or advocate for the United Way without spending money.