Last year, the United Way of Eastern Maine refocused its efforts on three areas where it felt it could make the biggest difference. By providing consistent funding for programs to improve the lives of children and families, senior citizens and those needing help to achieve self-sufficiency, the organization aims to have a larger positive impact on the region. It can’t have that impact without money.
Last month, the United Way launched its annual private fund-raising campaign, which aims to raise $2.5 million to be spent in Eastern Maine. A car and gift certificates are offered as incentives to encourage donors to be generous. Improving local communities should be incentive enough.
After identifying its three focus areas, the United Way chose specific outcomes such as ensuring that seniors can remain at home with the help of caregivers, that children learn to take personal responsibility and resist negative peer pressure and that basic services be available to people in times of crisis.
There’s nothing fancy or far-fetched about these goals; they’re of the sort that any healthy community would want to provide. But they are especially welcome not only because they focus agencies on important regional issues, but they also reassure contributors – 14,000 individuals, 400 corporate members who give every year – of the seriousness of United Way’s purpose.
United Way volunteers identified 64 programs that they believe demonstrate long-term measurable results and directly support the desired outcomes of the three focus areas. These programs then received a three-year funding commitment that provides stability and an opportunity to help them achieve their goals.
To help children take responsibility for their actions and to make better choices, the United Way has committed $22,000 to the DownEast YMCA’s leadership, volunteerism and employment initiative and $89,000 to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Maine.
To help seniors live productive, active, healthy lifestyles, the organization has committed $10,000 to the Bangor Y’s cardiac and pulmonary rehab program and $15,000 to the Eastern Agency on Aging for community services.
Funds for programs at the Shaw House, Bangor Homeless Shelter, Spruce Run and Pine Tree Legal Assistance will help area residents deal with personal crises and develop self-sufficiency.
Most of Maine, and certainly the region covered by United Way of Eastern Maine, struggles constantly with the limits of resources and nearly unlimited demands. The organization’s new approach is a results-oriented way to bridge that gap.
So, when asked to give to the United Way to support these efforts in your community, please be generous.