Sampson County’s United Way has made its allocation decisions for 2013 and board members are pleased to report that all of the 11 agencies that applied for their support will receive funding.
The 11 agencies funded by United Way this year include Sampson Crisis Center, Girl Scouts-NC Coastal Pines, Sampson County 4-H, Clinton Area Foundation for Education (CAFE), Boy Scouts of America Tuscarora Council, Sampson County Fireman’s Association, Sampson County Friends of Education, Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, U Care, Fitness Renaissance Program, and Delta Sigma Theta.
In January, United Way’s volunteer board, comprised of 17 members, met with all of the agencies who applied for financial support, and each agency had the opportunity to present their needs and goals to the board. The board then decided how to distribute the money, which was raised back in the fall through United Way’s fundraising campaign.
“We stress during the campaign that it’s not just about raising funds, it’s about investing in our community,” said Nancy Carr, director of Sampson County’s United Way chapter. “The process of meeting with the agencies and making those allocation decisions is very rewarding for the board. They’re concerned with improving the lives of our residents. That’s what our whole mission is about.”
Kenny Cabral, president of Sampson County’s United Way, shared that his work with United Way has “provided me the opportunity to learn more about the various non-profit organizations within Sampson County. A lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment is given by individuals affiliated with these agencies on a daily basis. The lives of many individuals within this community are touched by the United Way’s partner agencies each day and we are certainly fortunate to have these agencies here in our county. The United Way is also appreciative of the pledges and donations that are received each year, which are essential in attaining our goal of making a positive impact on our community.”
Likewise, the agencies that receive funding from United Way are certainly thankful to the board and to all those who choose to invest back into the community.
“The funding we get from United Way ensures that our doors stay open. If it wasn’t for United Way, we’d have to make severe cuts which would end up endangering lives,” said Pam Gonzalez, director of U Care. “It really helps keep our communities safer and helps provide a place for people to go when they’re in danger.”
Rochelle Stuart, director of Sampson Crisis Center, shared that they would “be in deep trouble” without funding from United Way.
“United Way is such a great help,” continued Stuart. “Their funds are not restricted which is a big help. Other funding we get can only be used for certain things like food. It’s nice to know that whatever comes up we can use that money from United Way to meet the need. It makes life a whole lot easier.”
Susan Warren, who helps oversee Sampson County Friends of Education, Inc. in her role within Sampson County Schools, explained that “United Way funding is used to support the Friends of Education mini-grant program which is open to teachers employed in Sampson County. Teacher mini-grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and the goal is to provide much needed funding for teacher initiatives that are not typically funded through regular school funding to help increase student achievement.”
“Our teachers work really hard to secure items for their classrooms,” shared Warren. “This year we were able to fund a wide variety of projects.” She noted that funds from United Way helped to purchase everything from robots for the high school technology program to chickens for one of the Ag programs.
In total, “we were able to fund 24 classroom projects,” Warren added. “All of these items help students become more engaged learners. This would not have been possible with the support of United Way.”
Partnering agencies, such as these mentioned, that receive funding from United Way are required to report back to their supporter throughout the year. “We’re really focusing on community impact now. The agencies have to provide us with outcome measurements and show the kind of impact their work has had on the community,” attested Carr. “When we get their reports, we then like to share them with Sampson County. We want the community to know that, when they give to United Way, they really are helping all of these agencies. We want to give them direct, specific information about how their donations help.”
As part of their focus on community impact, Carr shared that United Way is planning to launch a community needs survey in the spring. “It will help us identify what the community believes are the most urgent needs. Once we know that, we can target those specific things.”
Currently, United Way’s target areas are very broad, focusing on health, income and education. While these general categories reflect those of United Way worldwide, Carr thinks the community needs survey will help Sampson’s United Way develop its own unique sub-categories. “Instead of just targeting income, we want to know if people cannot pay their heating bills or if they’re are having trouble putting food on the table. With education, we want to know if people feel they aren’t receiving the training they need to do their job. It’s these kinds of specific community needs that we want to target. That’s what we’re moving towards.”
In order to properly identify the needs specific to Sampson County, United Way knows it needs to receive feedback from as many locals as possible, so it’s planning to distribute and collect surveys, which will be available in both English and Spanish, in a variety of ways. “We’ll probably take some surveys the old way, dropping it into shoe boxes at different locations. Agencies will also have the surveys available. We’re probably going to do an online survey as well,” explained Carr. “However, we want a wide range of responses and we know that everyone doesn’t have access to a computer, so we may also have some surveys at some of the county churches. This will also enable us to reach more people, especially people who live farther away in the more rural areas, because Sampson County is a big area for us to cover.”
“It’s an evolving process, but as time goes on, more and more of our funding will be going towards these targeted needs, so our agencies that receive funding from us will need to align themselves with these targets,” added Carr. “We’re not seeing any problems with that. All of our current partnering agencies are on board.”
As United Way works to organize the survey, Carr shares that all involved are looking forward to hearing from community members. “We’re really excited about this and we want to hear from everyone.”
For more information, visit United Way’s webpage at www.unitedwaysampson.org.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.