Letter: United Way is changing

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 11:00 PM

To the editor:

The mission of the United Way of Vance County is to address human service needs by mobilizing community resources and building partnerships. The board of directors is committed to this mission.

For almost 45 years, United Way of Vance County has supported agencies, helping thousands of people and functioning as a conduit of donors to give to important organizations. Yet problems in the community remain. If UWVC is to maintain value as the best way to invest in the community to have the greatest impact, it must change the way it does business. As a result, the UWVC is repositioning itself as more than a fundraiser for local agencies, seeking to become the leading community impact organization for the Vance County area. Many successful United Ways throughout the country have converted to the “community impact” operation model. This is a multiple year effort that will ultimately lead to increased levels of volunteerism and financial contributions.

Despite best efforts, under the current system of direct impact funding, community problems either persist or continue to worsen: rent affordability, lack of a robust public transit system, joblessness, hard drug use in high school, neighborhood deterioration, and public and private policy decisions that negatively impact families, etc. The scope of community problems and the impact of those problems on families limit the ability of direct service programs to make lasting changes.

The shift to community impact is a proven method of creating lasting change.

Our community needs to continue to challenge the capacity of Vance County’s health and human service providers. While agencies continually perform heroic work in meeting people’s immediate needs, there have been few opportunities to address the larger, community-wide conditions that give rise to those needs, or to foster sustained solutions.

Addressing pressing community issues requires new approaches and additional partners. We invite everyone to join us.

Nancy Gray