Because of the ease of giving through automatic payroll deductions, some contributors call United Way "one-stop shopping" for region charities.
The United Way campaign for 2001-02 kicked off last week with a goal of $550,000. At $18.33 per Juneau resident, it's a bargain in benefits to Southeast Alaska.
United Way's 28 member agencies provide more than 100 health and human service programs from Haines to Ketchikan.
"When city and borough of Juneau dissolved the health and social/human service department last year, it was not for lack of clients," said United Way Executive Director Marsha Riley. "Many of our United Way member agencies expanded programs and services to accommodate increased service needs after that action."
New to the Southeast Alaska campaign this year is an attempt to let contributors address needs in individual communities, Riley said. "We redesigned our pledge form so people can indicate where they want their money to go. It seems fair that if you live in Haines, your money should stay in Haines."
At least two agencies in Juneau could not do what they do without their affiliation with United Way, Riley said. One is the Glory Hole homeless shelter and dining hall. Another is Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies.
The AWARE shelter serves about 500 victims of domestic violence and 125 victims of sexual assault each year, said Executive Director Annette Coggins. This year, the United Way supplied AWARE with just over $25,000, or about 3 per cent of its annual budget, she said.
"Most of the grants we get are specific to a particular project. What's great about United Way funds is that they are not specific and thus enable us to fill in the gaps," she said. "For example, this year we got a grant from Philip Morris to cover food, but we lost a grant to cover child care. We will be able to offer child care to our clients when they attend counseling or look for housing because of the United Way funds."
You don't have to be the person receiving drug or alcohol counseling to benefit from United Way, Riley noted. "You benefit if that person is not breaking into your home, driving under the influence or selling (illegal substances) to your child."
The United Way campaign has three subsections of automatic payroll deduction: The combined federal campaign for all federal employees in Southeast Alaska including the U.S. Coast Guard; the private-sector campaign, which includes employees of firms such as Fred Meyer and the Juneau Empire; and SHARE, the campaign for state employees.
Residents can donate time as well as money. For example, on Saturday, the University of Alaska Southeast sent out more than 40 faculty, staff and student volunteers in a coordinated undertaking of work projects for nonprofit organizations.
The occasion was called the Day of Caring. Projects included sanding and painting closet doors at AWARE, clearing brush at the Methodist Camp, assisting the Gastineau Rotary Club with distribution of pre-sold garden bulbs, and washing walls at the Zach Gordon Youth Center. Each volunteer received a T-shirt bearing the words: "You have the power to change the world."
"I believe 'Day of Caring' is United Way at its best, connecting groups of volunteers to perform needed tasks. It provides an organized avenue for volunteerism in our community and enables people to see their United Way dollars at work," said coordinator Lynne Johnson, director of development and university relations at UAS.
For more information about United Way of Southeast Alaska, call 463-5530.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at email@example.com.