COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: United Way gives to local charities

By Stephanie Yoder

(Photo by Sara Marshall)

Imagine pushing a button, switching a light or pressing a control and watching change unfold in Huntington County.

Imagine pushing a button, switching a light or pressing a control and watching change unfold in Huntington County.

Pushing a button is the United Way of Huntington County’s theme for the 2012 campaign season.

United Way of Huntington County is a nonprofit organization that has served as a fundraiser for human service causes within Huntington County for almost 50 years, according to the United Way of Huntington County website.
United Way’s mission is to raise money for partner- agency programs and serve as a community builder.

“United Way seeks to bring businesses around the table to work together,” Jenna Strick, executive director, said.

The organization raises money for its partner agencies’ programs, she said.
“It now works and plays an expanded role as a community builder,” Strick said.

United Way of Huntington County organizes an annual fundraising campaign, which averages $700,000 every year, Strick said.

In 2010, according to public records, Pathfinders Kids Kampus received a grant from United Way for $62,500 which was the highest grant given in 2010. The American Red Cross of Huntington received a $60,000 grant from United Way.

Approximately 15 percent of the annual income budgets toward operational costs and the other 85 percent is designated to other nonprofit organizations within Huntington County.

The university is one local organization that is actively involved with United Way.

“We have many faculty and staff who have served on the board,” said Ashley Smith, associate director for media relations on campus and marketing committee member for United Way.

Tanner Babb, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, serves as a university liaison with faculty members and United Way. He already knew Strick because they both attended HU. Babb became interested in United Way’s mission and goals.

“I saw that if I encouraged people to give money, I know that this money is going to be well spent. Also, knowing Jenna Strick, I knew that there was somebody who had a very good head on her shoulders and she was going to lead the organization well.”

One of Babb’s responsibilities is to facilitate discussions with faculty about United Way to help them understand how United Way works in the community.

“Part of what we really want to establish with both faculty and staff is the level of involvement that our students have with organizations connected to United Way,” Babb said. “A lot of people that are involved in this ‘academic bubble’ they don’t often see what is going on in the community.”

Smith said it is “Our responsibility is to make sure to get everyone the message.”

According to documents provided by Smith, 51 percent of the faculty and staff together raised $15,635.08 for the previous campaign year.

She said the relationship between the two organizations is still strong.
United Way works with other nonprofit organizations and designates funds to organizations including Love In the Name of Christ, The Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army Huntington County and Pathfinder Services.

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