Push on as United Way campaign heads into home stretch

With only a few weeks left in the 2008 United Way campaign, United Way staff and volunteers are giving it everything they've got in their quest to raise the goal of $4.5 million.


To date, area companies and individuals have pledged $3.6 million, which is 80 percent of the community-wide fund-raising goal for United Way and the Combined Federal Campaign.

I am hoping this great community will step forward.

The work United Way and its agency and community partners are doing together is simply too important for us to take a step backward. We must continue the forward progress that United Way is making as it works to help children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed, youth to develop education and life skills, and families and individuals to achieve financial stability.

While times are tough for many people, they are even tougher for people who need United Way-funded programs. Calls to United Way's "2-1-1" line, our community's 24/7 connection to human services, have risen by about 50 percent over the last year. Many of the callers are people who never expected to need services.

NOT A DAY goes by that I don't think about the many ways my family is blessed. In counting my own blessings, it invariably leads me to think of others in our community who are not so fortunate. For me, that's why United Way is so important to the future of our community.

Our community may be facing challenging economic times in 2009, and your support of this campaign makes an important statement. Equally, your financial pledges say a lot about the character of the people who live here. By making an investment in United Way, the individuals and companies in our area are demonstrating that we are committed to thinking beyond ourselves and are all working together to raise up the entire community.

With your United Way contribution, you are leveraging the dollar you give. United Way and their partner agencies are good stewards of the funds we entrust to them. A large amount of every dollar goes directly to those persons in need -- with very little spent on administration. We take pride in the fact that just 13 cents of every dollar pledged provides year-round fund-raising, marketing and administrative services.

THE PARTNER agencies also leverage the dollars given to them even further by taking advantage of matching funds and other giving.

The needs of the community are often much broader than any one agency can handle. United Way-funded programs offer a comprehensive mix of services to meet the diverse needs of our total community. With your generous contributions, United Way supports nearly 60 local health and human service programs through 18 partner agencies.

United Way is the largest funding source of health and human services in the area, but its value does not stop there. Beyond simply providing resources for needs, your United Way is uniting people to build a stronger, safer and healthier community. United Way is working to advance the common good by creating lasting change that will improve lives in the CSRA.

The result is a tremendous benefit to our community, but these services come at a cost. Please help us reach our goal by joining in any way that you can. Give, join together and advocate for a worthy cause, volunteer your time for a community project. By doing so, you can help the CSRA keep on its feet and reach it fullest potential.

THOSE WHO have not contributed to United Way this year are encouraged to do so. Residents looking to help may choose to make a personal gift by sending a check to United Way of the CSRA, P.O. Box 1724, Augusta, GA 30903 or by calling 706 724-5544.

Businesses can make corporate donations or, if you haven't already done so, conduct a workplace campaign. There's still time. Remember, every dollar counts.

As individuals, we may not have control over the nation's economy. However, through our giving to United Way, we can focus on making a difference to the health of the CSRA community. The success of the annual United Way campaign is important to our quality of life and a measure of the quality of our caring.

I CHALLENGE individuals and businesses of every size to participate. It will take all of us together, giving whatever we can -- as United Way donors, volunteers and advocates -- to meet our $4.5 million goal and the ever-growing needs of this community.

I sincerely thank the individuals and companies that are digging deeper into their pockets this year to help those in need. Doing something feels good -- and it's all within your control.

(Jeff Spears, is 2008 United Way of the CSRA board chairman and president of Savannah River Banking Company.)