Local United Way funding nears $13 millionWritten by Justin R. Kalmes | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lonnie Beavers’ life has been on a roller coaster ride the past year.
While working as a truck driver in Arkansas last summer, Beavers’ vision deteriorated to the point where he could no longer do his job at night. He quickly found himself without a job.
Beavers arrived in Toledo in August without a job or place to stay. Homeless and unemployed, the 46-year-old stayed at the Salvation Army until late December.
With nowhere else to turn to, Beavers went to the United Way for help.
The agency’s 2-1-1 program directed him to food, clothing, transportation and other needed services.
“It was my turning point,” said Beavers, who now has his own apartment and a temporary job, of his experience with United Way. “That was when things started changing for the better.”
United Way 2-1-1 is one of several programs supported by the agency’s allocation of funds. The program will again receive nearly $150,000 in 2007-08 because of success stories like Beavers’.
During its next funding year that runs July 1 to June 30, 2008, United Way of Greater Toledo will invest $12.8 million in the community. Of the total investment, $8.57 million was devoted by volunteers to 120 programs in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties. The agency will distribute another $4.28 million based on donor designations to specific nonprofit organizations or groups.
The June 21 allocation announcement marked the second year of a three-year funding plan that focuses on programs for young children, children and teens and vulnerable families. The plan also designates money to be used on mobilizing the agency’s resources and connecting people to help.
Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo’s president and chief executive officer, said funding amounts remain nearly unchanged from last year, except for those designated to programs that were not reaching outlined 12-month goals or that were not following proper reporting procedures.
“This is about maintaining the plan,” Kitson said of the 2007-08 investments.
United Way withdrew funding from several agencies that provide mental health counseling because the Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services provides similar assistance, Kitson said.
“There is, in theory, no need for us to fund a similar service,” he said, noting United Way was “incredibly concerned” about withdrawing funding for those services because individuals have complained of long wait times in the Lucas County system.
Kitson said it is important for United Way to have a good balance between its restricted and unrestricted dollars. He described the 2007-08 funds as being at a “fairly healthy” range when looking at those dollars that were designated to specific programs or nonprofits.
Perhaps the biggest challenge the organization faces is not raising funds, but spreading the word about how the dollars actually impact the communities they serve, Kitson said.
“We’ve been so consumed by the fund-raising strategy, most people associated us to giving money,” he said. “… The value we have in the community has to do with the money spent.
“It’s not about how much we raise, it’s about how many lives we change.”
Kitson said the United Way’s mission of changing lives has allowed it to attract a young and vibrant work force. He said the organization now strives for more lasting changes rather than a quick-fix approach for challenges communities face.
“We just simply want to get better and we are getting better,” Kitson said.
To see the United Way of Greater Toledo’s complete list of investments for 2007-08, visit www.unitedwaytoledo.org.