United Way votes to cut January allocations

By Rozella Hardin
STAR Staff

   The Elizabethton-Carter County United Way Board of Directors voted Monday to cut January allocations to its seven agencies by 30 percent.
   "At this point we do not have the funds. Thirty percent is a big cut, especially to the smaller agencies such as the Senior Citizens and ARMS, who depend on United Way funds to get them through the month," said Brenda Wallace, United Way Executive Director. "It hurts from the big to the little."
   Tina Garrison, UW secretary, reported that only 57 percent of the 2004 $183,000 goal has been met. The financial report was broken down as follows: Commercial, $38,753.97 pledged with $7,294.99 collected; Industrial, $12,071 pledged and $177.61 collected; Public Service, $21,254.50 pledged and $5,026 collected; Professional, $4,055 pledged and $2,575 collected; Residential, $5,370 pledged, and $5,025 collected. The result is a total of $81,504.47 pledged and $20,098.60 collected.
   Wallace said that at this time last year the agency had met 65 percent of its goal, and allocations were cut by 30 percent. "Eventually, we hope to be able to raise the allocations to 85 percent," she said. "Maybe, more money will come in and we can replace cuts."
   It was also suggested that the number on the board be increased to include a representative from each agency served by the United Way. Kelly Geagley, who made the suggestion, said if the agencies had a member on the board, they would be more aware of how much money was coming in and what they could do to help. Wallace suggested that inactive board members be replaced with agency members.
   Board members discussed the difficulties of educating the public about what the United Way is and what it does. Wallace noted that the economy has taken its toll not only on United Way but also other non-profit groups. "This month, I worked with the Community Christmas Basket Project. We gave out 800 boxes of food and toys, and the council struggled to get the donations to fill the boxes," she said.
   Wallace noted the lack of participation from professionals. "Our attorneys and insurance agencies participate really well, but we don't have very good participation from physicians and teachers," she said.
   Garrison noted that some businesses and organizations offer incentives to get employees to give. "The hospital went over its goal this year. But, they offer incentives. Last year, Mountain States gave away a PT Cruiser during its drive, and this year, they gave away a cruise. That helps," she said.
   Jim Richardson of Carter County Bank, noted that fundraising organizations such as Relay for Life and the Salvation Army, of which he is a board member, are "single-purpose" organzations, while the United Way is a multi-agency. "It's seven versus one," he said.
   "We really have to look at the success of these agencies, and see what they are doing, and maybe do some of the things they do," Chairman Richard Tester said.
   He asked board members to bring ideas for increasing community involvement to the January meeting.