United Way truly makes difference — with help

Published 11:23 pm Saturday, December 20, 2008

I accepted a commitment earlier this year to be the United Way of the River Cities Campaign Chairman for 2008.

I knew about many of the things United Way did in the community because of my past role as a television reporter in this market.

I reported on stories about the lives impacted by United Way partner agencies and directly by the programs administered by the United Way.

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But I realized after taking on this new volunteer role that my knowledge concerning United Way was very limited.

I discovered United Way of the River Cities plays an even broader and more important role than I realized, and I’ve spent the past 12 months telling anyone who will listen about what I’ve learned.

Some important changes are under way at United Way and they’ve helped me become even more comfortable asking people to donate their money to United Way. United Way has found new ways to help partner agencies measure how their programs and initiatives are helping the community. United Way is seeking to promote learning and earning as well as health and wellness. United Way also wants to make sure families and children are getting the things they need, and that everyone has access to basic needs.

With a new focus on program outcomes, we can all be sure our dollars are used to get the maximum benefit. The goal is to address chronic social issues and create lasting change.

Many of you are already United Way supporters and this is my chance to say “thank you.”

If you haven’t given recently, payroll deduction is the easiest way to contribute. Ask your employer if payroll deduction is a possibility. If not, you can write a check directly to United Way of the River Cities.

We are trying to raise $1,500,000 by December 31, 2008. We still need lots of help, so we hope you’ll become involved.

Volunteers from many local businesses have been working with me on the campaign team for the past several months, and I also want to thank them for the countless hours spent on the campaign.

I’m so impressed by the positive changes at United Way happening under the leadership of Executive Director Laura Gilliam.

Cassey Bowden is the director of resource development and marketing and she is the driving force of many of the great projects and events sponsored by United Way of the River Cities. Cassey also makes the campaign possible by organizing all the information and volunteers.

Please call Laura or Cassey and find out how you can help United Way make a difference. They can be reached by calling 1-304-523-8929.

Call before the end of the year so you can help United Way raise the money needed for next year’s programs.

Doug Korstanje is a Chesapeake native who works at St. Mary’s Medical Center.