By Robin Alberti
On Thursday, Sept. 8, United Way of Rutland County began its annual campaign at the Franklin Conference Center in Rutland by announcing that this year’s fundraising goal is $530,000.
“Thanks to our pace-setter donor businesses, we already have pledges for nearly 30 percent of that goal — $155,670,” said Nanci Gordon, executive director of the United Way of Rutland County (UWRC).
The goal is significantly less than last year’s goal of $570,000, which was not hit — the first time in decades the county’s branch has fallen short.
Roughly 80 community and business leaders, nonprofit agencies, government officials and friends of United Way attended the kick-off breakfast.
“Health, education and financial stability are our three areas of focus for our community impact work,” Gordon said at the breakfast event. “These are important issues. We [United Way Of Rutland County] work with local people with expertise and data to help identify the priorities and needs in all three areas. Then on a practical level we support programs through 25 local agencies and Vermont 2-1-1. We are the backbone to identify needs and facilitate solutions through community collaboration.”
Vermont 2-1-1 is a statewide 24/7 hotline where people can call to get help with referrals for a variety of issues, including homelessness, housing, childcare, child development services and domestic violence.
Along with funding Vermont 2-1-1, the UWRC supports the following: ARC-Rutland Area, BROC: Community Action in Southwestern VT, Child First Advocacy Center, The Compassionate Friends, Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont, Evergreen Substance Abuse Services, Fair Haven Concerned, Foxcroft Farm Harvest Program, Green Mountain Foster Grandparents Program, The Mentor Conection, One-2-One Program, Park House, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, Recovery House, Inc., RSVP & The Volunteer Center, Rutland Area Prevention Coalition, Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice, Rutland County Court Diversion and Restorative Justice Center, Rutland County Head Start, Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter, Rutland Dismas House, Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging- Meals On Wheels, Vermont Catholic Charities, Inc. and Vermont Psychiatric Survivors.
United Way, as a global organization, adheres to the mission to “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.”
United Way programs are powered by 2.9 million volunteers and 10.3 million donors who give their time, money, and their voice to improve the lives of others. United Way hopes its funding will help solutions go beyond temporary fixes to create lasting change in communities around the world. By bringing people and organizations together around innovative solutions, they impact lives of millions of people every year. Worldwide the organization focuses on three main areas: education, health and income stability, “the building blocks for a good life and a strong community.”
The ways in which to address issues vary greatly from community to community, and that is why the United Way of Rutland County is continuing its transition to a “community impact-funding model.” That model is a combination of stabilizing lives in the short term through direct-service efforts, and then getting to the root causes of these critical issues so that people can see long-term improvements in their lives, as in the adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Support UWRC efforts by attending events that support the United Way or through direct donation. One of the most popular and successful events is coming up: The 21st annual “Really Big Show” will be held Nov. 5 at the Paramount Theater (audition Sept. 30 or Oct. 4 at Rutland High School’s theater.) A diverse selection of talents are sure to be on display once again this year. Last year a hula-hooper won!
For more information visit www.uwrutlandcounty.org.
By Robin Alberti