By MARIE NESMITH
Extending thanks to area donors for their support in the midst of COVID-19, Brenda Morehouse is pleased to see United Way of Bartow County’s Together We Can campaign top $500,000. Kicked off Sept. 1, the drive initially sought to generate $600,000 through the end of January.
“As of Jan. 10 we have secured $504,229,” said Morehouse, president of the local United Way. I’m so proud of the work United Way of Bartow County, our board, volunteers and community engagement officers have done to keep our local United Way thriving through this pandemic.
“At the end of 2020, not only had we been able to meet our promised allocations to the United Way partner agencies, even though many companies had layoffs and furloughs, we were able to raise $108,000 more to help with COVID-19 relief, such as rental assistance and basic needs, which included food, medication and utility assistance. Everyone truly worked hard to stay on top of the needs in Bartow County all of 2020.”
The Together We Can campaign primarily acquires funds through payroll deductions, which enables employees to donate a minimal amount yearlong, with a portion of their paycheck designated to the local United Way.
“United Way of Bartow County, with the help of our local representatives, has been really trying to get more of the new manufacturing businesses to engage in payroll deduction,” Morehouse said. “It is truly the easiest and most effective way to raise money for the Bartow County community. The workplace campaign is our biggest asset and strongest channel for reaching donors.
“It is so important to the success of our community that we maximize our effectiveness in engaging employees through the workplace. We absolutely cannot do that without the support of the company itself. There are many digital giving platforms that allow donors to give to hundreds of nonprofits, but the United Way platform allows them to volunteer, give and engage.”
The ongoing pandemic has presented many challenges during this drive, resulting in virtual campaigns and a rise in needs from United Way-supported nonprofits.
“The increase in needs for mortgage/rental assistance is up 380% and the requests for basic needs is not far behind,” Morehouse said. “We are seeing an increase of 275% in these areas. It makes sense on the basic needs.
“If you truly think about it, if you have three kids that are normally in school all day, you now have utilities going up because everyone is home, food costs going up because they are eating at home and the cost of making sure you have the tools, such as laptops and other devices necessary for home schooling.”
The campaign helps United Way of Bartow County obtain its mission to “provide adequate funding and guidance for member agencies and local charitable organizations to provide for immediate needs of those in crisis situations; meet long-term needs through the educational, emotional and moral guidance of children; enable financially or physically disabled people to become self-supporting.”
The Together We Can campaign’s funds will be distributed to United Way’s 2021 partner agencies, which include Advocates for Children, Bartow County 4-H, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia, Christian League for Battered Women, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, The Salvation Army, Tonsmeire Community Clinic, Allatoona Resource Center, Good Shepherd Foundation, Hickory Log Vocational School, North Bartow Community Services, The Bookmobile, Bartow Literacy Council, Boy Scouts of Northwest Georgia and veterans via its Mission United program.
“My heart truly goes out to all those families who have been trying to work from home and home school their children,” Morehouse said. “It’s mentally exhausting is what our clients have been telling us when they call for assistance. Our children are struggling in school despite the best efforts of our educators. They work tirelessly to provide not only quality education but also emotional support for many children who do not have a strong support system at home.
“Listening to so many mom and dads the past nine months tell their stories has truly been what has given us the motivation to keep pushing forward. No one has been immune from the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 and at this time the funding United Way provides to these programs through partner agencies has never been more important.”
“We have compassionate and caring leaders in our workforce community, which is why, in a pandemic, we were able to do so much through 2020 and have secured over $500,000 for 2021 so far,” Morehouse said. “My deepest gratitude goes out to all of those who have helped us reach these goals.
“You are the beacon of hope for our community. Your support allows those who face serious challenges to be successful. Everyone deserves the right to an education, good health care and job opportunities. Our United Way supporters make this happen.”