United Fund within reach of goal

This year’s United Fund of Surry campaign has achieved 91 percent of its goal, with fundraisers planning to mount a final push to get it over the top.

Ninety-one percent might sound like a done deal for reaching such a goal, but in monetary terms it means the effort is still about $39,000 short — with a deadline looming at the end of March.

“We’re kind of in the eleventh hour of this thing,” said Catrina Alexander, who is chairing the 2015-2016 United Fund campaign.

The goal is $450,000, for which $411,319 has been pledged.

Alexander is appreciative for the substantial support received. “We would like to thank all who have contributed to the campaign thus far.”

And United Fund officials are hoping the community will find a way to reach down into its pockets a little farther to achieve the $450,000.

“We’d kind of like to get it wrapped up,” Alexander added Tuesday.

Multi-pronged approach

United Fund officials will rely on several strategies to make up the shortfall for the 2015-2016 campaign.

One involves community awareness, making sure the public is aware of the unique role the United Fund plays in this area.

The money it generates is channeled to 26 different agencies that are vital to citizens of the area, such as the Surry Medical Ministries clinic that provides free medical care one day each week from its site on Rockford Street.

Alexander said that agency alone shows the value of supporting the United Fund in terms of an investment bringing a big return. The Surry Medical Ministries clinic is said to provide $20,000 worth of free care to persons in need “every time they open their doors,” she pointed out.

Another example is the Shepherd’s House, which provides temporary housing to homeless persons who would have nowhere to turn otherwise.

Among the 26 United Fund beneficiaries are the local Salvation Army and American Red Cross, Yokefellow Ministry, Meals on Wheels and five area rescue squads, and others.

Alexander, who is parks and recreation director for the city of Mount Airy, said United Fund officials also want to ensure that the community knows the money donated truly goes for its intended purposes.

It all stays here, the fund chairman said of the fact the organization is locally based and has only two part-time staff members in addition to board members and others involved with the United Fund who are strictly volunteers.

“It’s different from a lot of national organizations,” Alexander said of those that raise money which tends to be eaten up by administrative and other costs that dilute the amount of aid to those who are supposed to benefit.

By making a United Fund donation, the giver can be assured that his or her gift will be distributed to a wide range of worthy recipients.

Other steps toward reaching the campaign goal will include trying to do more to engage the community, such as making United Fund representatives available to speak to corporate or other groups about what the organization does.

Anyone desiring more information about the United Fund — or to make a donation — can call its executive director, Christina Plitt, at 789-3087, or visit the fund website (at http://www.unitedfundofsurry.org/), Alexander said.

In the past several years, there have times when the United Fund has not met its goal, which Alexander said is partly due to changes in executive directors, with three different individuals serving over that period.

This means funding has had to be reduced proportionately to the 26 agencies in response to the shortfalls and undercut the levels each needs to serve the community.

“Whether we meet our goal or not, it still means so much to the community,” Alexander said of the many programs and services the United Fund supports regardless of the money available.

“But, of course, we want to reach our goal.”