With one week remaining until the close of its 2012 fundraising campaign, the United Way of Washington County is $225,000 short of its $1.775 million goal for 17 area health and human service agencies.
In an 11th hour appeal for contributions, United Way President and CEO Lester Lattany and Campaign Chairman Tim Swecker emphasized the need to maintain the United Way’s current level of support for the estimated 90,000 county residents who are impacted annually by the agencies’ services.
“We thank everyone who gives to the United Way campaign because whether they know it or not, they save lives,” Lattany said. “They save lives and they change the lives of men, women and children in this community.”
Up to 70 men, women and children who are homeless and housed nightly at the Johnson City Salvation Army shelter, including 11 children who will spend Christmas at the shelter and an all-time record number of 16 children who were housed at the shelter last week, depend on annual support from United Way contributors, Lattany said.
Homeless families with children who receive housing and transitional assistance from the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Johnson also rely on annual allocations to IHN provided by United Way givers.
Area residents left homeless by August’s flood and the 2011 tornadoes as well as those who have lost their homes and possessions to house fires have received emergency shelter, food and clothing with donations from United Way contributors passed along annually to the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee.
Forty-five Washington County seniors and adults with disabilities who are at risk of nursing home placement or institutionalization instead spend their days in the Adult Day Services program because of dollars from United Way’s supporters that are passed along annually to ADS. And a larger number are able to stay in their homes much longer that they otherwise could because of gifts from United Way contributors that are passed along yearly to the Personal Support Services program operated by the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency.
Currently, 270 Johnson City schoolchildren with special needs identified by the schools receive free afternoon and evening programming at Coalition for Kids, including meals, snacks, school supplies and help with homework provided with help from United Way givers. Comparable services are made available at affordable rates to low-income families at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County-Johnson City and at Girls Inc. of Johnson City with annual assistance from United Way contributors.
New shoes are available to children in need in Johnson City schools and new shoes, clothing and food to are provided to Washington County schoolchildren in need with United Way campaign contributions passed along annually to the school systems’ emergency programs.
“Every contribution to the United Way is a contribution to the community,“ Lattany said. “The risk of the campaign falling short is always that the allocations and services the agencies provide could be cut.”
Swecker said, “When you hear these numbers your heart just sinks because with everything that’s happened with the economy for people who have jobs, it’s worse for people who need these services.
“And when you think about those people, it’s just disappointing for the campaign to fall short. So what we are doing is asking everyone to look into their pockets and look into their hearts and see what we can do.”
With the shortfall in the dollars raised so large at this late hour in the campaign, Swecker said it is critical for the United Way to again reach out to individuals and to companies who have not given and to those who have given and “may be able to give just a little more.”
“There may be people and businesses who are new here, who have moved here recently and want to give but just haven’t had time to call us. We’re looking for you and we want to give you that nudge. We’re still working and we’ll be collecting every dollar we can through Dec. 31.”
Swecker and Lattany encouraged anyone who wishes to contribute to call the United Way at 282-5682. Donations to United Way of Washington County may be made by mail to P.O. Box 4039, Johnson City, TN 37602-4039.