A pitch to help the good works of the United Way ...
If you had an extra dollar or two to spare out of your paycheck, would you be willing to use it to help stop domestic abuse? How about aiding the Duluth Food Bank, emergency shelters, neighborhood youth programs or the Boy Scouts?...
If you had an extra dollar or two to spare out of your paycheck, would you be willing to use it to help stop domestic abuse? How about aiding the Duluth Food Bank, emergency shelters, neighborhood youth programs or the Boy Scouts?
Dividing that donation and sending it in separate envelopes probably would cost as much again in postage, but as every wage-earner should know, the easiest way to assist all those needs is with a gift to the United Way. If you do need a commercial to explain the organization's good works, check online at www.unitedwayduluth.org or call them at 726-4770.
The reason for this pitch is for the first time in several years, the organization is close to reaching a significant goal to make it better able to aid the services it funds.
"We are now within about $50,000 of hitting $2 million," said Paula Reed, executive director of United Way of Greater Duluth. "It has been our goal to get past the $2 million mark for the past few years. We surpassed $2 million for a couple years in a row, and then 9/11 hit."
Other disasters followed in subsequent years, including the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, tugging at the heartstrings and charitable pocketbooks of Duluth residents. The largesse is something we can all be proud of, but even the most generous philanthropist only has so much to give. Irrespective of the world's troubles, the needs in Duluth continue.
The United Way is the easiest way to help.
Though the words "United Way" need little introduction, they usually are qualified by a suffix. "Of Greater Duluth" is one, and across the water, it's "of Superior-Douglas County." The United Way of Carlton County (based in Cloquet) and United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (Chisholm) are two more in the region.
All of them assist with the same basic human services, though each area has its specific needs. Yet wouldn't it be more efficient to combine at least some of the administrative activities of the different groups? A combined area United Way also could simplify life for Superior residents who work in Duluth, or vice versa, who may want an employer on one side of the bridge to deduct their donations to go to the other side.
"We are hearing loud and clear from organizations and individuals that it would make sense," Paula Reed of the United Way of Greater Duluth said. "We are having conversations, specifically with Superior right now, looking at ways we can work more closely together."
The needs aren't entirely the same, and "no one wants to lose their identity," Reed said. True, and neither does anyone want to lose his or her job in a merger. But savings on office space alone would help lower costs and overhead, directing more money to programs. Staffing issues and savings could be realized with little impact on employees through attrition of those who retire or leave.
There is a precedent: The Greater Twin Cities United Way formed in a recent merger of the St. Paul and Minneapolis branches. And Reed said this year her office and the Superior United Way ran a joint campaign at three participating companies.
"We are testing the waters there and it does make sense," Reed said.
Think of it as a more united United Way.