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Ventura County Perspective

Real People Suffer When United Way Is Underfunded

Those who receive help through the agency, already pinched by previous shortfalls, badly need for this year's goal of $5.5 million to be met.

November 15, 1998|RUSSELL MURAWSKI | Russell Murawski lives in Ventura

It was my privilege to address business leaders, volunteers, agency representatives and donors at this year's fund-raising kickoff for United Way of Ventura County.

As someone who receives vital assistance from a United Way agency, I wanted to thank all those who made that assistance possible. More important, I wanted to make sure people and businesses understand how critical it is that help be there when it's needed.

In my own case, because of my blindness, I couldn't even write this letter without the support of volunteers from Caregivers, one of 59 United Way agencies. In addition, as a volunteer, I work with many frail and elderly people who depend on the help they receive, so I have taken a very personal interest in this year's United Way campaign.

At the kickoff ceremony, a $5.5-million goal was announced, representing a $300,000 increase over what was raised last year. So far, a little more than $600,000 had been pledged. The campaign closes on Dec. 15.

Folks, we need to get going! Because of previous shortfalls, United Way has been forced to make a series of major funding cuts to agencies. Those cuts are deep and they hurt. As a board member and volunteer fund-raiser for several nonprofit agencies, I know those cuts can't be offset simply by increasing efficiency. Most agencies already operate on a shoestring. Those cuts mean turning away people who need safe shelter, food, guidance, medicine or other help.

Ventura County has one of the highest median family incomes in the nation yet its per-capita giving to United Way is among the lowest.

If we were supporting United Way at the national average rate, we would raise more than $10 million easily!

It's time to stop making excuses and pitch in. The needs are great and your contribution really does help people.

I know.

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