United Way again reaches out to help community
By Gene Kemmeter
Once again, the United Way of Portage County annual campaign is underway. The campaign begins at the end of summer and ends before the beginning of winter. The goal of the 2018 campaign is to raise $2.95 million, less than the $3,048,991 raised in 2017 when the goal was $2.875 million.
The goal depends upon the generosity of all Portage County residents, not just a few. Contributions will support the building blocks to provide better lives and stronger communities that will lead to a stable job to provide enough income to support a family until retirement, plus ensure good health.
The funds provide assistance to more than 30 different programs that help others in the county in the areas of education, health, income and community basics. These local programs rely mostly on volunteers to reach out into the community, and the volunteers organize events, serve as role models, deliver meals, teach skills and provide administrative and emotional support.
United Way recognizes that individuals have special talents and encourages residents to put their talents to work for Portage County because an organization can’t do it alone. It needs committed people to lend their hands and hearts. Life improves for the entire community when youth achieve academic progress, more families are financially stable and more people are healthy.
The fund drive is in its 73rd year and traces its origin to the Community Chest in 1945 after the end of World War II. Residents raised $19,633 that year to meet the increasing needs of some community members after years of war. Residents have generously contributed since then as the need for services has increased.
Larger businesses and their employees have annually stepped up to demonstrate their generosity to the community. Sentry Insurance and its employees generally contribute more than one-fourth of the goal. But they can’t be expected to meet the campaign goal alone. The campaign depends upon the assistance of every resident making a contribution to help others.
All donations to the United Way are tax deductible, and many businesses offer payroll deductions, spreading out the impact on the wallet instead of a lump-sum payment. A donation of $2 per week provides $104 that stays in the community. Every contribution is vitally important to support vulnerable and aging populations, strengthen and support families, help children succeed, enhance self-sufficiency, and build vital and safe neighborhoods.
A contribution as a volunteer for the funded programs also helps the community. After all, the volunteers organize events, serve as role models, deliver meals, teach skills and provide administrative and emotional support. That truly exemplifies “Living United.”