For the first time in its 12-year history, United Way of San Juan County has exceeded its target campaign goal by nearly $10,000.
“We are exceedingly grateful for the trust and generous support of the community,” said Executive Director Bonnie Gilmore. “Our donors are important partners in our efforts to provide services to hundreds of island residents who participate in United Way funded programs.”
The function of United Way of San Juan County is simple: provide grant money to eligible local programs. “We have a rigorous application process to make sure the funding goes where it is supposed to and accomplishes what the applying program intends,” said Danah Feldman, a Lopez resident and United Way board member for seven years.
United Way of San Juan County is unique in that 99 percent of donor dollars are reinvested in the community by way of its grants process and utilizing local businesses for services, Gilmore said. This year, nearly $120,000 will be granted to 34 programs that create significant, long-term results for seniors, children, families and at-risk adults. United Way’s priorities are building healthy and resilient children and families, ensuring everyone has food to eat, a roof overhead and a healthy living environment, creating systems that increase physical and mental well-being promoting safety and preventing violence and abuse.
The following programs will receive grants in 2008:
4-H Youth Development Program; Compass Health Mental Health Program; Friday Harbor (FH) Elementary School Pre-school to Kindergarten Transitions; FH Elementary School – After School Study Club; FH Elementary School Primary Intervention Program; Funhouse Discovery Center – Mentor Program; Hearts & Hands – Orcas Volunteer Caregivers; Hospice of San Juan; Kaleidoscope Preschool – Staff Development Funding; Lopez Children’s Center – PAL Program; Lopez Family Resource Center (FRC); Lopez FRC – Kid’s Summer Workshops; Lopez FRC – Lopez Fresh; Lopez FRC – Mentor Program; Lopez FRC – Rental Assistance Program; Lopez FRC Primary Intervention Program; Lopez Island Hospice and Home Support; OPAL Community Land Trust – Rental Assistance; Orcas Early Childhood Consortium – Family Support Specialist; Orcas Elementary Primary Intervention Program; Orcas Family Health Center; Orcas Island Children’s House; Orcas Island Recreation Program; Orcas Island School Dist. – Prevention Partnership; Orcas Island School Dist. – Readiness to Learn Program; Orcas Montessori School – Tuition Assistance; San Juan Community Home Trust; San Juan EMT Association – EMS Program; San Juan Island FRC – Mentoring Program; San Juan Island FRC – Prenatal to Four Program; San Juan Island FRC – Readiness to Learn Program; San Juan Island FRC – Rental Assistance; San Juan Island Head Start Primary Intervention Program; San Juan Island Prevention Coalition.
United Way raises the bulk of its money through an annual letter campaign mailed to previous donors as well as all of San Juan County. United Way also receives funds through payroll deduction and occasional matching funds and grants.
“The needs here are greater than we are able to meet. Federal, state, and private funding continues to be on the decline for a variety of reasons,” said Feldman, who is also the allocations chair for United Way. “The need in San Juan County isn’t apparent to a lot of people because when you drive around you see wealth and beautiful homes and land. You don’t see the need as much as you would in a larger, urban area. But there are a lot of young families who are trying to raise their children and contribute to the community, and as everyone knows, the cost of living here is high.
“I feel that United Way’s presence is becoming more familiar and people are realizing how the programs we support are helping our communities. There is still a stigma that because it is a nationally recognized foundation, people think that the money is going out of the county — but 99 percent of funds stay here. United Way of San Juan County is managed locally and the money goes to local programs,” commented Feldman.
United Way brought in more than $150,000 in 2007, and after administrative costs, mailing costs, and maintaining an emergency fund, $120,000 will go directly to island organizations.
“There are so many non-profits in San Juan County and everyone is competing to get money from our small population. We are trying to make it easy for people to give to one source and trust our evaluation process and the scrutiny we put our programs through. Every year we have increased the amount of money we receive from our generous communities, and we hope to considerably increase what we bring in, so as an organization we can help these programs with providing their services. We hope we can meet the financial gap that these organizations experience.”