Boy Scouts, drug program hurt by United Way shortfall

Published 9:55 am Monday, April 12, 2010

Nancy Lewis isn’t sure how many Lawrence Countians will need help with their prescription medication, but she is sure that $4,500 will not be enough to cover costs for the year.

“People are already asking about it,” said Lewis, director of the Family Medical Centers for the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization. “You just know $4,500 is not going to be enough.”

The CAO recently started sponsoring the program, which had been under the control of the Lawrence County Job & Family Services.

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“I don’t think they had the manpower to do it,” Lewis said. “We didn’t want to see the program not be in Lawrence County, that’s why we applied to help out. We would do more if we had more.”

The United Way of the River Cities funds the medication program.

The CAO had applied for $10,000 for the program from the United Way of the River Cities, but it was only approved for $5,000. That amount was further reduced because of a shortfall in the United Way’s fundraising campaign. Now the program will receive only $4,500.

“This is the first time we’ve taken on the program,” Lewis said. “That’s definitely going to be a setback for the entire program.”

In the past, when Jobs & Family Services had the program, the agency served between 10 and 15 people each month, at the cost of about $100 per person, said Rhonda Christian, a social service worker at the agency.

“Some months we wouldn’t serve that many,” she explained. “It depended on how many people came. It’s very, very popular. I still have people calling me for that.”

The program helps people who don’t have another pay source for prescriptions.

Besides the prescription medication program, eight other programs in Lawrence County were affected by the campaign shortfall.

Laura Gilliam, executive director of the United Way, explained that the amount of funds distributed to the Lawrence County area were not determined by how much money was raised in the county.

“In fact, the decisions regarding the initial funding and the revision were made without any knowledge of the amount raised,” she said in an e-mail.

In the 2009 campaign, businesses, employees and individuals in Lawrence County raised $70,116. The United Way will invest $88,900 in the county for 2010.

This figure takes into account $24,360 for Lawrence County’s portion of disaster services funds for the American Red Cross as well as funds for organizations like Girl Scouts Kentucky Wilderness Road Council and Boy Scout Simon Kenton Council.

This year the Boy Scouts will receive $10,000 for its program as well as $4,250 for a drug prevention program and $4,675 for a fitness program.

It had originally been approved for $12,400 for its program, $5,500 for its fitness program and $5,000 for its drug prevention program.

“Obviously when we get less, we can do less,” Ron Green, scout executive for the Simon Kenton Council, said, adding that the Boy Scouts will have to look into the number of children it serves and the services it provides. “The United Way of the River Cities has been generous to the Boy Scouts. We’ve had a good relationship with them.

“It’s a double-edged sword. You can do less but there’s a lot of people in the same boat,” he said.

As for the CAO, Lewis said the agency is constantly looking for grants and other funding not only for the prescription medication program, but for all of its programs.

“People need to give to the United Way,” she said. “I know it’s been a difficult fundraising campaign for them.”