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United Way puts focus on Armstrong County

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
ACMH Hospital patient Joseph Hagofsky enjoys a visit from Orphans of the Storm therapy dog Dauphne and her handler Diana Goslin. United Way board members Sean Taladay and Jane Hess were on hand as Dauphne made her rounds. Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times

The United Way of Armstrong County has launched its 2013 campaign year and this year its approach to meeting its goals is very different.

The nonprofit is telling donors that every dollar it raises is staying right here in the local community for local programs that address local needs.

The change is part of the local United Way restructuring its allocations process to better serve what its contributors care most about — the community they live and work in — Armstrong County.

The hope is it will help them reach their goal of $150,000, United Way officials said. Last year the United Way of Armstrong County fell short of that same goal in raising just $135,000.

“People express concerns that they're giving to the bigger nonprofits,” said United Way of Armstrong County Executive Director Emily Boarts.

“They think their donation is given worldwide. It's not. That's why we picked some smaller nonprofits that are just in our area for this year. We're focusing on Armstrong County.”

Boarts said another change being made is that United Way of Armstrong County funds go directly to a designated program within each of its member agencies.

“The idea is we can track the money better,” she said.

“People will know exactly who they're helping. They'll know where their money goes, this is what it did and that it helped this person.”

The nonprofit agency's list of member agencies is different from last year, in keeping with its new focus.

They're supporting 10 agencies, reduced from 15 last year, in the county to receive funding for the next year: ARC Manor; Community Action Mentoring Program; Life Choices; Lifesteps; Mechling-Shakely Veterans Center; Richard G. Snyder YMCA; Salvation Army and the Salvation Army Service Unit.

Two new agencies added for this year's allocation funding: Orphans of the Storm and the Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center which is a program of the Armstrong Educational Trust.

Missing from the list are some previous agencies served by the Armstrong County United Way whose needs go beyond the county's boundaries including: accessAbilities; The ARC; Boy Scouts; Catholic Charities; Girl Scouts and the Multiple Sclerosis Service Society.

United Way of Armstrong County has taken additional measures to assure a successful fundraising campaign.

“With budget cuts we've transformed how we do things,” said Boarts.

She said they do more networking, online activities and have an online newsletter on its website. The campaign is being conducted online.

In addition, they have started the campaign at an earlier date.

“We're trying new things out,” said Boarts. “We wanted to get a head start. We've moved our office (to the Community Action building in East Franklin). Everything seems to be working out well.”

She tells potential donors that especially with the hard economic times, all their agencies and including the United Way, are struggling and in need of help.

“It helps people you see every day,” said Boarts. “It helps your community.”

To make a donation, send to: United Way of Armstrong County, 705 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA, 16201 or visit www.uwarmco.org to make an online donation.

You can choose to make your pledge designated to a particular agency.

“Be part of the change,” said Boarts. “Your donation can make a big difference to children, families and individuals in Armstrong County.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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