United Way campaign on the homestretch

NAUGATUCK — The United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls is gearing up for one final push to reach its 2013 campaign goal.

As of the December Board of Directors meeting, the United Way was at 70 percent of its goal, according to Lisa Shappy, executive director of the United Way. The organization was at the same 70 percent benchmark in December 2012. The result was a campaign that exceeded the goal by $15,000 and raised $440,000.   

Following the success of the 2012 campaign, the United Way raised the bar and set the 2013 goal at $440,000.  

“The $440,000 was a jump, and we wouldn’t have done that if we didn’t think it was possible,” Shappy said.

The United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls is unique among United Ways in that its fiscal year mirrors the calendar year rather than running from July to June.

Shappy said last month the United Way was still waiting on the figures from a number of local accounts, such as the campaign run by borough employees, and national corporate accounts, which will boost that 70 percent total.

As the 2013 campaign winds down, the United Way will make one final push in January and still needs the community’s support to obtain its goal.  

Donors who have consistently given to the United Way over the years but have not done so thus far in the current campaign can expect a second mailing, Shappy said. The organization will also be reaching out to professionals and businesses in the community, she added.

Individuals interested in donating can call the United Way office at (203) 729-1564. Donations can also be made online at unitedwaynaugatuck.org under the “Click & Give” link.

Through its campaign, the United Way helps fund partner agencies, such as the Salvation Army. Over the last few years, Shappy said, the need for the services provided by the United Way’s partner agencies has increased.

Shappy pointed to the Elf Project, which is run by the United Way and Naugatuck YMCA. The program provides families with a dinner, winter clothing as well as toys and games for children around the holidays. In 2012, Shappy said, about six families were helped by the program. This past Christmas, around 15 families were sponsored.

“When I see those things coming in, that tells me that the needs are still high,” Shappy said.

Eighty percent of every dollar raised in the campaign is allocated to a partner agency. The 2012 campaign helped to fund 16 partner agencies and four local youth athletic leagues.

The Naugatuck YMCA received the largest allocation last year. The YMCA received roughly $87,700, including designated donations, according to the United Way’s 2012 annual report.

YMCA CEO Susan Talbot said the United Way’s allocation is used mostly to support youth development and enrichment programs at the YMCA. The funds also go towards adult programming as well as the YMCA’s Open Doors program, she said.

The Open Doors program is financial aid provided by the YMCA for those who can’t afford memberships and programs run by the agency. Talbot said the YMCA typically gives between $250,000 and $300,000 in aid a year.

Talbot said finances should never be a barrier for anyone to use the YMCA’s services.

The support helps the agency provide the assistance, Talbot said, and the generosity of the donors to the United Way allows the YMCA to continue its mission.

Allocations from the 2013 campaign will be decided on in late winter or early spring in anticipation of the United Way’s annual meeting March 25.

Shappy is confident the United Way will announce at the meeting that it met its goal.

“The community has supported us for the 50 years that we’ve been here and have stepped up in times when we were struggling to meet those goals, allowing us still to help the people that use United Way partner agencies,” she said.

The support shown by the community says to Shappy that the community has faith in the United Way.

“I think it shows that they believe in us, they trust that our volunteers make the best decisions on how the dollars are spent,” Shappy said. “This community embraces the United Way as well as other organizations.”

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