Every February, our United Way has the honor of reviewing the applications from local nonprofits applying for grant funding, and then also sitting down with each of them for an interview.
This year, we had 33 applicants, all which provide incredible services and bring tremendous value to our communities. To say that our United Way board of directors has a tough task ahead of them determining grant allocations would be a drastic understatement. Each year, I continue to be more blown away by the tremendous work of these lean but mighty organizations.
People often ask me if it’s ever difficult that a good portion of my job is spent fundraising (aka, asking people for money). It’s always really easy for me to answer “no, not at all” and that’s mostly because of this annual process. When I have the opportunity to sit down with over 30 local organizations that are making such a difference in our communities, providing such crucial services to those in need, and helping to level the playing field so that everyone in our towns has the ability to thrive… well, that makes fundraising very easy. Because I know the funding is important and I know how much it is needed.
What is it needed for, you might be asking? Well here are just some of examples of what United Way grant funding helps our local nonprofit partners provide:
- scholarships to low-income families for early childhood education
- medical and dental care to low-income and uninsured individuals, families and children
- ESL, GED, computer literacy and citizenship classes
- legal advocacy services for victims of domestic or sexual abuse
- emergency assistance for housing, utilities and food
- job preparation, financial literacy and family budgeting lessons
- affordable mental health services
- sober living environment and recovery counseling
- opportunities for families to connect with one another and their communities
- early childhood literacy programs
- creative outlets for those with barriers or disabilities
- activities focused on confidence, leadership skills and courage for young girls
- mentorship, after school programs and youth empowerment services
- services for end of life care and to help residents remain in their homes with dignity
- financial assistance to families to help with the costs of their child’s extracurricular activities
- lessons for children on nutrition, healthy habits, and the importance of being active
It’s pretty amazing to know that all of this work – and SO much more – is happening in our communities every day. People are working tirelessly – everyday – to be there to support families, individuals and children who are in need of assistance.
So for those in our communities who think there isn’t enough being done, I encourage you to look harder, get more involved, and offer help yourself. Although our nonprofit partners are doing an amazing amount of work, they are also limited by their resources and capacity. They can always use more support from more community members.
And to end, on behalf of United Way, I can’t begin to thank our supporters enough. Every donation we receive puts us in the honored position of being able to help support all of those services listed above. We’re so proud of our partners and grateful to be a small part of their work.
With sincerest thanks,
Megan Hartwick, United Way executive director