United Way provides opportunity to help

COLUMBIA CITY — There is one organization that has the potential to help many. But how many are actually helped, depends on how the final push of its fundraising campaign turns out.“This year, the needs of people have greatly surpassed the resources that are available from the agencies, programs and services that are sponsored by the United Way of Whitley County,” said John Black, executive director of the United Way of Whitley County. United Way has a goal of raising $288,000 this year to help fund several different agencies that benefits Whitley County residents in a wide variety of ways.“Our fundraising does not just impact United Way of Whitley County,” campaign chairwoman Carrie Hoffman said. “There is a trickle effect. United Way supports 12 local agencies that depend on United Way’s help to continue their missions.”United Way helps fund organizations that provide assistance with literacy, youth organizations, helping the homeless, senior citizens and developmentally disabled, among other things. They also provide funding that helps families who are struggling to get by until the economic recovery reaches them.One of the ways a donation to United Way can help struggling local residents is through a rental assistance program offered by the Salvation Army.Pat Mossburg of the Whitley County Salvation Army said her organization uses United Way funds to help struggling families meet their rent payments.In 2010, the Salvation Army rental assistance program helped 80 families keep a roof over their heads.“It’s because of (United Way) that I have this program,” Mossburg said.Another program United Way funds that helps families meet day-to-day needs is the Whitley County Energy Assistance Fund.This fund provides a way to help residents pay utility bills related to heating costs. In 2010, the group helped 116 families with their utility costs, and since 2008, when the economy took its tumble, it has helped 350 residents. United Way funding also provides inventory for Beds And Britches, Etc., an incentive program that helps parents of children newborn to age 5 get necessary items to give their children a healthy start in life.Shawn Ellis, executive director for B.A.B.E., said she has seen an increase in the number of new families using the program, which means more inventory is being used.“United Way dollars go to inventory,” Ellis said. “When we lose dollars, there’s less inventory for families. It’s kind of like a family budget. We’ll have to make choices.”It is a sentiment echoed by Hoffman. “If our fundraising is down, our giving to the agencies will be down. We do not want to see this happen. We believe in our agencies and what they do for our community.”To help these agencies and others meet their missions, Hoffman reminds residents that every dollar counts, and each dollar donated to United Way can be designated for a specific agency.There are many ways to donate to United Way. A clip-out form accompanies this article and may be clipped from the paper and sent with a donation to the United Way. An online donation can also be made on the organization’s website found at www.unitedwaywhitley.org. Donors can also call the United Way office at 244-6454 or send an e-mail to uwwc@whitleynet.org to arrange to make a donation.“Please join us by investing your contributions to help advance the common good in our community,” Black said.