United Way of Blair County is entering the home stretch of its 2010-11 annual campaign at 71 percent of its $600,000 goal.
"We are anticipating that we should end up about the same as last year when we hit 86.6 percent of the goal, or $519,895," Chief Professional Officer Robin Beck said. "We need to do everything we can to get closer."
The United Way provides support to 24 programs operated by local agencies from the American Red Cross to the Garver Memorial YMCA. Based on reported outcomes, United Way funding helped more than 19,280 Blair County residents last year, Beck said.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Taelynn Whetstine, 7, makes clay out of bread, glue and water colors during craft hour Thursday at the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation After School Program.
"If you know a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout, they've been helped by United Way. If you care about young people or senior citizens, United Way has been there for the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation's after school and summer programs and Blair Senior Services' Meals on Wheels Program," Beck said.
In recent years, United Way has concentrated on "building blocks for a good quality of life" in four key areas: education, income, health and meeting emergency needs.
Beck said there will be consequences if the goal is not reached.
"There will be less money to allocate. and people in the community will really be hurt," Beck said. "It may mean some agencies are not funded at all, and some are funded at a lesser amount."
A cut in funding would be harmful to the Gloria Gates Foundation because United Way makes up 20 to 25 percent of its funding.
"We would be really scrambling or hurting if we lost that United Way funding," Executive Director Toni Bilik said. "If we lost United Way funding, we would do what we have to do. We may have to close one of our program sites, that would certainly be something we would have to consider."
The foundation currently operates three sites for children.
A loss in funding also would be detrimental to the Meals on Wheels program.
"United Way funding allows us to avoid a waiting list and enables us to provide this service to the folks who need this service," said Mark Prasko, Blair Senior Services community services program manager.
"Losing United Way funding would be a blow to the program. It would require us to seek other funding sources or use more traditional sources of funding for the program. If we lost United Way funding, it could mean the Meals on Wheels program or another program could suffer through a reduction or we would be limited on what we could provide."
United Way funding for the coming year will be critical for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which helps people of any religion obtain basic needs like food, shelter, heat in winter, transportation and counseling.
"We use 100 percent private funds, and what we are seeing in the Blair County area is the potential loss of state and federal funding sources that used to supplement our funding," Executive Director Jean Johnstone said. "For us beginning April 1, we will have a crunch when moratoriums come off gas and electric [prices]. We are seeing raises in gas prices, fuel oil prices, electricity prices and water prices. It is difficult for us to buy for those on a fixed income."
Beck said she understands it is difficult for people to help in the current economic climate.
"We are in a Catch-22. Times are hard. It is tougher for people to reach into their pockets to give," Beck said. "Please help us and make our community a better place to live."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.