United Way reaches goal
WORTHINGTON — Six months after kicking off its annual fundraising campaign, the United Way of Nobles County announced Monday it has exceeded its $160,000 goal.
As of Friday, funds received totaled $160,544.74. The agency increased its fundraising goal for 2014 by $10,000 to help meet more of the needs in the community.
“A lot of communities raise more money than we do,” said Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darlene Macklin, adding that for Worthington’s size, United Way board members decided the increased goal could be accomplished.
“It all goes back to the community for some very good causes,” she added.
“I think it’s great that we made our goal, and we made it early into the year,” said United Way board president Heidi Hanten.
This year, 21 agencies were selected to receive the funds collected from the United Way drive. Hanten said the recipients are all nonprofit organizations that help the communities of Nobles County and its residents in need.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity for the United Way and the community to come together and support each other,” she said.
A majority of the funds contributed to the United Way come from employees who work for Worthington businesses. Employees of JBS, the local pork processing facility, have in recent years provided the greatest boost toward the fundraising goal, Macklin said.
“This year, again, they were just outstanding in raising money for the organization,” she added. “It doesn’t matter, big or small — it all adds up.”
Corporate donors and a residential drive also add to the goal, with the annual fall telethon kicking off the campaign.
“We try to … get out in front of people and let everyone know how important it is to give to the United Way,” Hanten said.
The United Way campaign lessens the need for organizations to go door to door and ask for donations, although many still seek funds from other sources.
Paula Boehrs applied for funds on behalf of the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council’s Community Development program. She said the United Way funds supplements what it gets from other agencies.
“Basically, (the money is) used to help people who are homeless or under the threat of becoming homeless,” Boehrs said, adding that SMOC Community Development has been a recipient of United Way funds for several years.
“We need those funds to help out,” she said. “We don’t get near enough from the state to meet all of the requests we get for assistance.”
At Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC), Brian Froderman said their contribution from United Way supports the agency’s clearing house help line. Since the line was established, Froderman said its hours of operation have increased from six hours per week in 2011 to 20 hours per week today.
The line connects neighbors in need with existing community resources, and then helps to mobilize churches to fill the gaps, he explained.
“The support we receive from the United Way helps us focus on our mission rather than constantly being worried about fundraising,” Froderman said, adding that he occasionally receives referrals from the United Way as well.
Sharon Johnson applied for United Way funds for the District 518 Parent Liaisons program after being short-changed with the federal sequestration last year.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with our funding source,” Johnson said, adding that the United Way funds helped bridge the gap to keep their Karen-speaking parent liaison employed after grant dollars were lost. The grant has since been restored, and Johnson said she doesn’t anticipate applying for United Way funds again for this purpose.
Also in District 518, Nelson Bonilla is appreciative of the continued financial support provided by the United Way for the Community Connectors program.
“They’ve helped us many, many years,” he said, adding that the funds are used for supplies and communication efforts for the program, which assists individuals attain access to health, education, immigration and legal services.
“We’re very, very, very grateful that they help us,” Bonilla said. “We also want to thank the merchants who give to the United Way.”
Other agencies receiving United Way funds in 2014 include ARC of Southwest Minnesota, Catholic Charities, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Junior Achievement, Lutheran Social Services’ Senior Nutrition (program), Mobile Meals of Worthington, NAMI of Southwest Minnesota, ACE of Southwest Minnesota, the Sioux Council of Boy Scouts of America, Southwest Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, Volunteers in Mercy, Worthington Area YMCA, Worthington Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, Worthington-Crailsheim International and the Worthington Christian Food Shelf.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.