UWCK appeals to community for support in reaching goal

United Way of Central Kansas (UWCK) officials understand why the current fundraising campaign has fallen short of its goal. 

But that doesn’t mean they are giving up. Far from it. 

“We are gratified that 90 percent of our goal has been collected,” Executive Director Gaila Demel said. “But now we seek the community’s help to bring in that last 10 percent.” 

The 2018 campaign began last August, with a goal of $275,000. Technically, donations can be accepted up until the next campaign begins later this year. 

“But we want to wrap this up and start fresh in a few months,” Demel commented. “We are appealing to our generous communities in Barton and Pawnee counties to make this happen. 

“Twenty-three Community Partners depend on United Way dollars to provide a little extra each year,” Demel continued. “Our purpose is to lighten their load. We don’t want to let them down.” 

Demel acknowledged that the local economy in general is the reason for this year’s shortfall. She did, however, cite a couple of specific examples. 

“Our Workplace Campaign has suffered because there are fewer employees at businesses, which limits United Way payroll deductions,” she explained. “This shortfall also results in a decrease in corporate matching funds. 

“We know businesses of all sizes are facing this situation but we also know our non-profits are hurting.” 

The other major factor in not reaching the goal is the oil and gas, and agriculture economies. 

“These industries are the backbones of our community,” Demel explained. “When both are depressed, the results reverberate throughout every segment of the two counties we serve. We understand this but we still must speak up for our neighbors who need our help. 

“It is a real double-edged sword,” Demel continued. “In a depressed economy, the need for social services increases. Our agencies are on the front lines of helping children, seniors and families with immediate needs.” 

These needs fall into many categories, including food, clothing, shelter, health care, domestic violence, elderly concerns, youth programs and education. 

The executive director emphasized donations of any size are welcome. “If you give one dollar, it is one dollar more than we had. Or you could figure what you spend on coffee and/or soda in a given time frame, and donate that much. 

“Or maybe you could donate the cost of one night out for dinner,” she continued. “Big donations are always welcome, of course, but the smaller ones add up quickly.” 

Those interested in donating are asked to mail a check to: United Way of Central Kansas, 1125 Williams, Great Bend, Ks. 67530; or visit the website, www.uwck.org, and click on “donate.” 

A donor may select a specific entity but most donations stay in a fund available to multiple worthy causes. When agencies apply for United Way funds, they must specify the need and the amount requested. The board of directors determines how much can be allocated. 

“The last time we fell short of the goal was in 2010,” Demel said. “On behalf of the people who need our help, we don’t want a repeat.” 

UWCK President Desa Marmie Behr echoed Demel’s comments and appealed to area residents to consider a donation. 

“Each of us can make a difference in the lives of central Kansans,” Marmie Behr said. “This is a reminder of how dependent United Way is on our generous donors. 

“Equally dependent on a successful campaign are the Community Partners we support,” she added. “But most important, we are committed to serve children, families, seniors and others who depend on us."