The Suburbanite
  • United Way allocates $5.9 million to programs

  • The United Way of Greater Stark County notified the 40 agencies Wednesday that received an allocation last year that they will receive roughly the same amount of money for their programs this year.

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  • Rather than a bag of food, residents seeking help at the Salvation Army of Massillon’s food pantry get a grocery cart and a lesson in budgeting and nutrition.
    As they browse the shelves of macaroni and cheese and pasta noodles, a volunteer educates them on the importance of choosing foods that provide a balance of grains, meat, fruits and vegetables, and how to make that food stretch to provide at least nine meals.
    “We want to help teach them to stretch their dollars and to understand what makes a healthy meal,” Salvation Army Capt. Tawny Cowen-Zanders said. “When you don’t have a lot of money, you might think you are helping your family by going to ... a fast food place, but you could take that same $30 and make meals for a week.”
    Cowen-Zanders has success stories to share, but notes that the pantry has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people who need help.
    In January, 155 households visited the Massillon food pantry. The year before, 59 households were served in January.
    On Wednesday, the United Way of Greater Stark County announced that its 2012-13 allocations include an additional $101,077 for emergency help with food, shelter and other basic needs. The 2012-13 allocations represent the second year of the agency’s two-year funding cycle.
    Google document of 2012-13 United Way allocations.
    United Way officials expect to raise $7 million when its fundraising campaign — chaired by Repository Publisher Kevin Kampman and his wife, Deborah — officially ends March 31.
    Here’s how the $7 million will be spent:
    • $880,499 will fund United Way’s 2-1-1 Information & Referral hotline and its volunteer center.
    • $285,000 are for the designated pledges to non-United Way agencies or to a United Way outside of Stark County.
    • $225,515 will fund initiatives where United Way matched donor contributions, such as Access Health Stark County, Trillium Family Solutions’ free tax preparation and the Alliance food pantry.
    • $4.5 million will be disbursed to 40 agencies to provide 97 programs designed to help children achieve their potential through education, help families become safe and financially stable and help fulfill basic and emergency needs.
    • $545,136 will cover the agency’s administrative costs and $602,718 will cover its fundraising expenses.
    Stark County Family Court Judge Mike Howard, chairman of United Way’s leadership committee, said volunteers evaluated each program that received an allocation during the first year of funding to ensure the agency made measurable progress. Poor program evaluations previously have resulted in reduced funding during the second year of the cycle.
    This year, all but two allocations — to Goodwill Industries and the Emergency Assistance Collaborative — will remain the same as last year.
    Page 2 of 2 - GOODWILL TAKES LESS
    Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio is the only agency that will see a reduction, receiving about half of the $204,197 it got last year. United Way officials said the reduced allocation is not because Goodwill failed to live up to its promises but because the agency in 2010 asked for less money over a three-year period as it tries to become self-sustaining. This is the final year United Way will fund Goodwill, although the two agencies will remain partners.
    President and CEO Ken Weber said Goodwill, which serves 14,000 Stark County residents, will rely on sales at its retail stores to maintain and expand its multiple skill-based training programs.
    The $101,077 that Goodwill no longer will use is what United Way officials shifted to the Emergency Assistance Collaborative’s pool of funds, which the participating agencies tap to provide emergency services. Catholic Charities of Stark County, Community Services of Stark County, the Salvation Armys in Canton and Massillon and United Way’s 2-1-1 participate in the joint venture, which will receive $469,077 this year.
    Howard said the agency saw emergency assistance as the community’s largest growing need, citing a 21 percent jump the number of calls to the agency’s 2-1-1 Information & Referral help line in 2011 and a 66 percent drop in state and federal government emergency assistance funding.

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