United Way developing partnerships, changing image
March 12, 2013, By Marla Blair, The United Way of Logan County will be 52 years old in a few months. It was chartered in 1961. At that time, the national United Way was already 74 years old, having been formed in 1887. The organization has its roots in a long-standing legacy of community-minded individuals who believed that by joining forces they could make a difference in filling the needs of the poor, the less fortunate and the elderly. And that mission has continued from the site of origin in Denver, Colorado, across this country and into countries around the world.
The traditional image of United Ways was that of pass-through agencies, raising funds and collecting donations to distribute to member agencies. But several years ago, the United Way Worldwide (UWW) restructured the mission and the position of United Ways in their communities. What were once passive agencies that stood on the sidelines and cheered for the driving forces behind change and solutions became human service agencies in their own right - initiating programs, introducing resources and standing alongside other community agencies to address social issues. The United Ways have become community partners and the point of origin for activity that can make a difference.
The United Way of Logan County is a smaller agency than exists in some of the surrounding counties and it did not become active as quickly. The situation began to change last year with a new administrative director and the board’s recognition of the need for strategic planning and board development. The image that the agency strives to exhibit has begun to take shape.
Marla Blair has recently completed her first year as the new administrative director. Much of that time was spent networking with other agencies and organizations, developing partnerships and becoming involved with community projects. Even with a background in not-for-profit agencies, Blair had to learn a new set of guidelines necessary to meet the standards set down by the United Way Worldwide. Also, there are UWW annual reports and mandatory periodic surveys that collect data on United Way agencies’ activity that result in reports on the progress and results of programs and initiatives nationwide.
Agencies receiving UWLC funding assistance for 2013 are: Lincoln Area YMCA; Center for Youth and Family Solutions; Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center; T.O.U.C.H.; Community Action Partnership Senior Transportation and Senior Nutrition; Christian Child Care; Lincoln Pastoral Counseling; Epilepsy Resource Center; United Cerebral Palsy; Boy Scouts of America, W. D. Boyce Council; Girl Scouts of Central Illinois; American Red Cross; Senior Citizens of Logan County, The Oasis; Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center.
While the United Way of Logan County’s fundraising/pledge goal for 2013 is $110,000, the need to accept new member agencies will require additional funding for 2014. Agencies that applied for funding assistance and were approved in June of 2012 will begin to receive their quarterly allocations this month.
Funds received by the United Way of Logan County are applied to programs that serve residents of Logan County, even when agency headquarters are located elsewhere or the agency serves a multi-county region. For example, Epilepsy Resource Center and United Cerebral Palsy offices are in Springfield, but funds received from the United Way of Logan County can only be used to assist individuals who reside in Logan County. The same situation applies to the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, Boy Scouts of America, Community Action Partnership, etc.
The UWLC will announce a call for new or renewal applications before the end of March. Agencies that apply and are approved for funding this spring are completing paperwork for the 2014 fiscal year and will begin to receive quarterly allocations in March of 2014.
Three new board members joined the governing body in January. Since the United Way of Logan County was formed to address the needs of all communities in the county, it is important that representation also come from communities outside the city of Lincoln where the agency is headquartered. New board members from outlying communities are: the Rev. Rachel Stockle, Mt. Pulaski, pastor for the United Methodist Churches in Mt. Pulaski, Chestnut and Latham, and Ladonna Gass, Emden, a long-time employee at Krogers and volunteer librarian/program coordinator at the Whistle Stop Library in Emden. The third new board member is Dayne Altman, Lincoln, who is employed at the State Bank of Lincoln.
Additional board members are; Heidi Browne, President; Jason Lawrence, Vice President and Chairman, annual fundraiser; Patti Becker, Secretary; Jeanne Scheurer, Treasurer; Dawn Fry, Chris Cicci and David White.
The United Way of Logan County is located at 120 S. McLean Street, Lincoln (in the Logan County Farm Bureau building). The office can be contacted by calling 217-735-4499 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.