(Photo by Gary Lester: Torchlight Campaign Co-Chair Rick Seager puts the 50 percent marker up on the thermometer.)
The United Fund of Warren County has hit the 50 percent mark on its way to the goal of $680,000 on Monday.
Executive Director Lacey Hanson is very happy about that, but stresses that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We are thrilled that we have, in the middle of a pandemic, been able to stay on pace with reaching the 50 percent goal in the time frame we have in the past, but the concern is, with the restrictions from the Governor (Wolf), that will put people out of work, the other 50 percent that we have to go could be challenging,” Hanson said. “We want the community to know we are excited, but there is a challenge to reach the goal. If you have the means to give, we would encourage you to give. If you haven’t gotten it in and plan to, we encourage you to do that as soon as possible so member agencies of the United Fund receive it. They are going to need it. In 2021, I think you’ll see a lot of families reaching out.”
That will have a lot to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. While help appears to be on the way with a vaccine, the effects of the virus remain much more than just health. A number of people have lost their jobs and have seen their businesses go under, through no fault of their own.
“With the COVID surge, we’re not sure how we’re going to affect the campaign,” Hanson said. “So it’s a celebration, but still real concern. If we don’t reach the goal, the non-profits who are servicing the people the most will be limited. That’s a big message we want to get out.”
That being said, there is still plenty of reason for optimism.
“This is my third campaign as director and those pledges are coming back faster than in years past,” said Hanson. “It’s anywhere from $5 to a few thousand dollars. That’s an example of people who have the means who are doing it. Their responsibility to help out is tremendous. Some of our local businesses just can’t give like they have in the past.”
With COVID, Hanson and the United Fund had to do things differently like they have in the past. That meant a large virtual, social media presence.
It’s been an adjustment, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s been so different,” Hanson said. “In the past I got to go out and talk to businesses about the campaign, what the goals are – a lot of face to face interaction.I haven’t done any of that this year. This year it’s been mail, it’s been Zoom. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I think now-a-days social media is a way to reach more people. We’re learning a lot of this as we go.”
That included a video to kickoff the campaign which has been viewed more than 1,200 times on Facebook.
“We’ve had to pivot and have done some fun things, but those changes had to be made quickly,” Hanson said.
A reminder, here are the agencies the United Fund serves: The list of United Fund agencies is as follows: A Safe Place, the Allegheny Community Center, the American Red Cross, Bollinger Enterprises, Chief Cornplanter Council of the Boy Scouts, the Dental Clinic, Caring for Life, Don Mills Achievement Center, Family Services of Warren County, Girl Scouts, Hospice of Warren County, Jefferson DeFrees Family Center, New Hope Assistance Dogs, Ruth M. Smith Center, Sheffield Hospitality Center, the Salvation Army, Warren County 4-H Program, Warren Area Student Union and the YMCA.
Also, a contribution is made each year to the USO in honor of Warren County service people serving around the world.