United Way had busy, successful year

Published 8:04 am Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Franklin-Southampton Area United Way had many noteworthy accomplishments during 2008. Thank you to all who contributed to our successes.

Some highlights include:

■ Web site: FSAUW got an exciting new Web site created last summer. It has basic information about this United Way plus volunteer opportunities, LIVE UNITED interviews with some board members and a way to give online. We received our first online gift — a wonderful surprise of $500!

■ Strategic Plan: The Board of Directors and executive director created and adopted a new strategic plan. The plan will focus on increasing community impact, developing board members’ skills and abilities, and maintaining/growing the donor base. This plan was an outcome of a board workshop and pre-work by the Long Range Planning Committee.

■ Santa photos at the library were very successful this year with about 250 kids attending, including 18 youth from the Boys & Girls Club. Contributions of non-perishable food items for Cooperative Ministries were requested, and more than 350 pounds of food were collected. United Way sponsors Santa and pays to have the photos developed. The food drive was co-sponsored by United Way, Walter Cecil Rawls Library and Ruth Camp Campbell Library.

■ Community education: FSAUW distributed free FamilyWize prescription cards at the Franklin/Southampton County Fair, Franklin Fall Festival and to various organizations. These cards are accepted by local pharmacies and give discounts on prescription drugs.

We also distributed pamphlets on 2-1-1 at the same events and had an article in the newspaper. 2-1-1 is a telephone number similar to 9-1-1 except that 2-1-1 is for health and human services needs. If you need to find out about child care, senior services, mental health care, etc., call 2-1-1 to find out the services available in the local area. Calls in this area are answered by The Planning Council in Norfolk.

■ I am a member of the Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater Commission, whose mission is to provide programs and services to ensure children are ready to learn when they start school. I serve on the Ready Services Committee in the Raising a Reader focus area. This is a book-lending program aimed at parents/caregivers that shares books with children ages birth to 5 years. Connie Burgess, chairman of Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater, and I met with Sarah Bishop, the Raising a Reader expert with the United Way of South Hampton Roads, to learn about this very successful program. We will gather information in 2009 on who needs this program and who is currently using it.

■ Campaign: The campaign kicked off in September with the Business Breakfast, which 45 people attended. We shared the LIVE UNITED video and message: “When you reach out a hand to one, you influence the condition of all.” Ellis Crum, president of the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club-Franklin Unit, spoke, as did one of the youth. Other Boys & Girls Club staff and volunteers attended.

Last year’s final campaign was $236,464. This year’s campaign should range from $245,000 to $250,000. (Both numbers include grants from Franklin-Southampton Charities and the Camp Foundations.) Many corporate campaigns don’t report their results until the end of January or later, so it will be end of first quarter 2009 before we have final numbers.

Considering the economy, we had a fantastic campaign! Agencies have requested more than $320,000, and our Citizens Review Committee will determine individual grant amounts.

■ Executive director education. I attended the Volunteer Hampton Roads Non-Profit Leadership Conference and participated in a very good fundraising workshop by Gail Perry. I also attended the Tidewater Community College Academy for Nonprofit Excellence class on strategic planning. It was a good refresher for preparing our new strategic plan.