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Extending a Charitable Hand

United Way is back, and it needs your support

September 22, 1996

Since 1961, the United Way has been best known by its logo, a hand holding a rainbow. It's an appropriate symbol of the way the nonprofit organization directs money from helping hands to needy ones. In 1991, for instance, its local chapters funneled more than $3 billion to 46,000 national charities, ranging from child care centers to senior citizen housing services.

When the president of United Way's national organization was fired in 1992 for misusing funds, however, local chapters saw their contributions decline steeply. Especially hard-hit was the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

Though the local chapter operates independently of the national one, the bad publicity, along with the regional recession, caused a major decline in annual contributions, from $91 million in 1990-91 to $57 million in 1995.

To turn the tide, United Way hired a dynamic new L.A. president last May--Joseph L. Haggerty, who had headed the organization's Phoenix chapter. In the past year, he has enlisted energetic staffers and volunteers in a campaign to trim the organization's overhead and lure back corporate contributors that had dropped away. Most important, Haggerty has reached more deeply into the community by giving the L.A. organization's regional offices added authority to identify health and human service needs in their own areas.

As a result, Los Angeles is beginning to see contributions rise; its 1995-96 fund-raising drive brought in $58 million, an increase of $1 million over the previous year.

To kick off an even more ambitious fund-raising campaign for 1996-97, Haggerty joined Mayor Richard Riordan and other local leaders Saturday for a "Day of Caring." Volunteers were transported by bus to work sites throughout Los Angeles County, where they cleaned, painted and gardened at United Way charities focusing on services to youth.

United Way is back, in a big way. At a time when private charities are being asked to do more and more, no other charitable organization raises so much money for so many worthy causes. United Way supports a wide variety of organizations, including the Challengers Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA, YWCA, the Women's and Children's Crisis Shelter and the Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, as well as community centers in South, Central and East Los Angeles and the San Fernando and Antelope valleys.

United Way is the best way to reach out close to home as well as reach out to a whole city, a whole region. Support United Way and do your part toward making a better Los Angeles.

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