Local United Way goal falls short
After exceeding its goal last year, United Way said it's only collected 75 percent of the $205,000 it hoped to raise this year.
United Way held the kickoff for its 2009 campaign called "Take a Stand, Lend a Hand" in September. Its goal this year is $205,000 -- a $5,000 increase from its $200,000 goal in 2008.
The deadline for donations was Dec. 31.
Several factors contributed to the decrease, said Karli Skjeret, co-chair for the Jamestown United Way, including the economy and reduction in work force and hours across the area. Skjeret said many donors gave more money this year, but fewer had donated. Corporate donations were also down this year, she said.
Some donations may still trickle in, but board members don't expect to meet the goal like last year.
"At this point ... 75 percent is way behind," Skjeret said.
United Way allocates the donations to about 20 agencies and organizations throughout the area. More than 98 percent of the money stays local, said Ben Shannon, co-chair.
One of those organizations, James River Transit, receives about $26,000 each year. Those donations help keep costs to consumers steady, said Laurie McGuire, project director for James River Senior Citizens which oversees James River Transit.
James River Transit provides low-cost transportation in the James-town area as well as travel for medical trips to Bismarck and Fargo throughout the week. And for the last 11 years, it's done it for the same price -- $2.50 for a one-way trip anywhere in Jamestown.
"We have not had to raise our fare, our one-way fare, since 1999," she said.
Those low fares are important to the 220 to 280 people who receive rides each day, McGuire said.
If allocations to James River Transit are reduced, McGuire said she'll rely on some of James River Senior Citizens' own fundraising programs to make up the difference.
At James River Family YMCA, however, the future isn't so certain.
If it lost some of the $32,000 it receives from United Way, the facility isn't sure how it would cut costs, said Mark Olson, executive director. That decision is up to YMCA's board, he said.
YMCA uses the money allocated from United Way for scholarships and child care for children who demonstrate need, he said. Last year, the facility provided scholarships for 400 students.
"We really think it's important that every child take part in physical programs," Olson said.
In addition to physical activity, YMCA provided services and facilities to flood volunteers, victims and members of the North Dakota National Guard when waters rose in spring 2009, Olson said.
Like the YMCA, other agencies United Way supports, like the Salvation Army and Buffalo Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, assisted in flood-fighting efforts as well.
The United Way allocates to them all, Shannon said.
"It's just easier to donate to one place," he said.
And for those who can't give monetarily this year, United Way seeks board members and volunteers.
"If someone is really gung-ho or good at fundraising, we'd love to have them," he said.
To make a donation, mail it to Jamestown United Way, P.O. Box 85, Jamestown, ND, 58402. For more information, call 952-UWAY.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org