MIDDLEBURY — The United Way of Addison County (UWAC) officially launched its 2010 fund drive on Thursday by sending around 600 community volunteers to toil at many of the local nonprofits that will share in what officials hope will be a bounty of financial donations.
United Way officials this year have set a campaign goal of $775,000 — the same financial goal that was set last year. An ongoing sluggish economy conspired to leave UWAC $40,000 short of that fund-raising finish line, but campaign organizers — led by co-chairs Pam and Erin Quinn — are optimistic for a better result for 2010.
“I definitely think it’s attainable,” Pam Quinn, a 5th-grade teacher at Salisbury Community School, said on Thursday morning as she, Erin and hundreds of other community volunteers set out on their “Days of Caring” assignments. Erin Quinn is Middlebury College’s athletic director. The Quinns have long seen UWAC as a valued charity and agreed to help shepherd the annual campaign to it conclusion this year.
“We know what a thorough job the United Way does for providing widespread support in the community,” said Erin Quinn. “They also do a great job targeting resources where they are needed and helping the local organizations.”
Pam Quinn has served on UWAC’s fund allocation committee, so she is already well-versed in the organization’s finances, activities and mission.
“I have been impressed with the thoughtfulness with which the money is allocated and how much the community is involved with that allocation,” she said.
The Days of Caring (Sept. 16 and 25) offer businesses an opportunity to send workers into the community to help nonprofits spruce up their grounds and/or deliver services to clients. Some of those nonprofits are seeing record requests for aid as many Vermonters continue to look for jobs and are having to make do with less.
Kate McGowan and Helen Freismuth, co-directors of UWAC, said the county nonprofits’ declared needs — combined with a few new initiatives — actually amount to around $940,000. But they noted such a sum is likely unattainable this year so UWAC and the more than 50 programs it helps fund will need to make do with less.
“It wasn’t really a bad result,” Freismuth said of the $735,000 in donations harvested by UWAC in the last fiscal year. “The community and the agencies were happy. They know we can’t fund them completely, even when we reach our goal.”
United Way officials hope to attain this year’s goal with a lot of hard work and by trying to expand its traditional base of givers. The Quinns noted that roughly 2,000 of Addison County’s estimated 36,600 residents gave to last year’s UWAC fund drive.
“If you increase participation, I’d like to think you could help the bottom line as well,” Erin Quinn said.
Many of the current donors give through payroll deduction programs at around 100 county businesses. Approximately 250 people donate through UWAC’s Robert Frost Society, denoting donations of at least $1,000.
Freismuth, McGowan and the Quinns will try during the coming months to ratchet up contributors and donations in all categories of giving.
“No gift is too small,” Freismuth said, noting some folks give $10 per year.
“And no gift is too large,” McGowan chimed in. Faithful contributors in the Robert Frost Society will be asked if they are in a position to bump their gifts some, to reflect inflation and compensate for others who have had to cancel their donation plans because of job loss or other economic reasons.
Along with direct outreach to donors, UWAC will be holding some special events, including an Oct. 23 football raffle at Middlebury College. More details will be forthcoming on a hockey shoot-out and a “Dine with the United Way” program through which participating restaurants donate to the United Way a portion of their meal revenues for a specific timeframe.
Also, the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury is raffling an oil-and-gold foil painting titled “Jewelry #8” by Ellen Granter, with proceeds to address community needs. “Jewelry #8” can be seen at the Edgewater Gallery at 1 Mill St., and at the www.unitedwayofaddisoncounty.org website, where people can also make donations. The UWAC can also be contacted at 388-7189.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]