January 4, 2013

Editorial: United Way spreads the giving


---- — It’s difficult, sometimes, to decide where to send your charitable gifts. The need in so many areas is so great.

Do you do something to help the poor? Would you want to direct your money toward people who are suffering abuse? People who need help with drug addiction or mental illness? The homeless? 

What if you could help all of those causes and many more with one check?

That is the idea behind the United Way, and that is what makes it a fruitful and fulfilling way to help people in your own community.

The United Way of the Adirondack Region Inc. is trying to reach its goal of $775,000, with the campaign deadline approaching at the end of January.

The national economy is still rocky, despite some gains over the past year, and charitable giving is down all over the United States. The situation in the North Country is similar: Adirondack United Way Executive Director John Bernardi said projections, at this point, show the campaign coming within about $100,000 but not making goal.

It is imperative, for the well-being of neighbors in your communities, that the drive does not fall short.

”We are working diligently to close that gap,” Bernardi told the Press-Republican. “It is a difficult environment, due to the economy; however, the needs are greater than ever, due to the economy. It’s like a double-edged sword.”

A donation to the United Way benefits 41 agencies, which provided service to 80,000 people throughout our region last year.

”We assess community needs and priorities and allocate funds accordingly, with detailed review by community volunteers,” Bernardi explains. “Campaign funds are like an insurance policy for the community to help ensure that services are there when we need them.”

United Way also operates a number of local health and human-service programs, including a Regional Volunteer Center, 211 Information and Referral and Volunteer Tax Assistance for Earned Income Tax Credit.

If you send your donations to a national charity, you have no guarantee that people in your community will benefit directly. And, often, those organizations have high administrative overhead, so fewer of your dollars actually make it to the intended research or treatment needs.

With United Way, the money stays in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, and administrative costs are comparatively low. You know that people all over the North Country will be touched, in some way, by your donation.

United Way makes it easy because you can use payroll deduction as an option, with the withdrawals spread out so they are smaller and more painless. Or you can send a check directly to United Way of the Adirondack Region, 45 Tom Miller Road, Plattsburgh NY 12901.

The local need is very real. People living near you are struggling. Your donation can make a significant impact — right here.