United Way Community Campaign: Better Together

When it comes to charitable giving, there are many important and wonderful causes and organizations to support. Some of them are national organizations that do important work, especially in the area of research to fight devastating diseases. Others may be statewide organizations that are making an impact across the state. Then there are those that are local and are focused on addressing important issues here in our community and county. This is where United Way falls. Ninety-nine cents of every dollar donated to United Way stays right here in our community and region supporting important local needs.

Better Together: As a community, we are much better when we come together to support important community needs. We are very grateful for the businesses, employees and private individuals who have generously contributed to the 2013-2014 United Way Campaign. Their support is so crucial to the cause and mission of United Way.

2013-2014 Campaign mission: The mission of this year’s United Way campaign is to provide critical support to organizations, agencies and projects that are helping our youths reach their full potential academically and developmentally. Financial support is also provided to disadvantaged families that have children and are in need of neighborly help. It is very important for us as a community to make sure our youth have a chance to thrive so they have the opportunity to become successful and productive citizens.

Our children deserve to have hope for a bright future: I am sure you would agree that one of our community’s most precious resources is our children. Unfortunately for the past five years, many of our families with children have been struggling just to make ends meet. The number of families in poverty or close to it has increased and these families continue to face many difficult challenges. For those of us with the financial means to deal with some of life’s challenges, we can manage effectively. But for kids in families that lack these means, life’s challenges can be absolutely devastating. Providing assistance to kids with challenging personal needs is crucial to helping them reach their full potential in school and developmentally.

As citizens, we should measure the intrinsic quality of our community by the degree to which we ensure that all children have the opportunity to thrive and develop a sense of hope for their future. Unfortunately, for many children, much of their potential is going unrealized. Poverty and the social ills that accompany it conspire to rob them of the gift of a hopeful future. We can do little to affect the ills of the nation, but locally, we have ability to dramatically impact the quality of children’s lives. Can you imagine being a 10-year-old girl or boy trapped in an environment that offers little or no hope for a positive future? This is why the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way is focused on helping our youth reach their full potential so they can have a future filled with hope and optimism.

Life-changing impact: When children don’t have their basic needs met, including having enough food to eat, a place to live, decent clothing and other essentials, it is extremely difficult for them to be successful in school. We know if a child does not succeed in school, his or her chances of becoming a productive and healthy citizen is significantly diminished. Young families with children who lack some of life’s most basic needs are also under so much stress that having any kind of stability in their lives becomes almost impossible. We also know that through United Way support and working with our partner agencies, we can make life-changing differences in the lives of children. Below are four real life examples that demonstrate the life-changing impact that United Way dollars are making.

Wheels for Work: A donated car was given to an underprivileged family that had no transportation. A single father raising two young children, one who is blind and mentally handicapped, would walk a mile to work each day trying to eke out a living for his family. This family received a used, donated car. Now the father can drive his son to Des Moines for important medical services and he doesn’t have to walk to work each day. This donation is truly life-changing for this family.

Wheels for Health: Another donated car was provided to a single mother who had a severely ill teenage daughter who needed an organ transplant. This very loving mother had no means of transportation to get her daughter to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for critical medical treatments for a transplant. The donated car was a life-changing event for her and her daughter; maybe even life-saving.

Bridging the Gap: This re-homing program that collects used furniture and beds and then distributes them to families in need, has provided close to 400 beds to families with children in Fort Dodge and Webster County. In the past two years, this program has gotten almost 400 children off of floors and into warm beds.

Preventing families from becoming homeless: United Way funds have helped families with children remain in their apartments and avoid eviction, preventing them from becoming homeless. Working with agencies such as Upper Des Moines Opportunities, Fort Dodge Housing Agency, D/SAOC and the YWCA, United Way support is making an impact on families that find themselves in desperate situations.

There are many more stories of youth and their families that have benefited from United Way support. These kids and their families are not looking for a handout. They just need a helping hand. This year in Fort Dodge and Webster County, United Way dollars will support over 40 non-profit organizations, agencies, projects and programs that are focused on helping disadvantaged youth and struggling families in one way or another.

This year’s campaign is winding down and we are still striving to reach our goal of $425,000. Thanks to a very generous donor who wants to ensure that we reach our goal, every dollar donated from January 1 through January 30 will be matched dollar for dollar.

In you haven’t already done so, we invite you to donate to this year’s campaign. Be it $5, $50 or $500 dollars, every dollar donated adds up and will be pooled with contributions from hundreds of other caring citizens to help make a life-changing difference in the lives of many youth and families in our community.

To make a donation to this year’s campaign, just send us a check or drop by and visit us. Checks can be made payable to the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, 24 N. Ninth St., Suite B, Fort Dodge, IA 50501. If you have any questions about how you can support the campaign or volunteer in some meaningful way, give us a call at 573-3179.

We hope you will join us and support the campaign. As a community, we are always better together.

Amy Bruno is a project manager at the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.