Education, income, health and basic needs.
These are the building blocks that members of the United Way of Allen County believe lead to a good quality of life. And with that in mind, the organization announced Thursday its goal to raise $4.9 million during this year’s community campaign.
“Even though our goal is $4.9 million, the needs in our community far exceed that,” said Mark Coffee, the organization’s director of resource development, during a news conference at One Summit Square.
United Way members donned white T-shirts with “Live United” emblazoned on them for the event, which took place while many who live and work downtown made their way to the food trucks parked outside the square along Wayne Street.
The local United Way has not met its campaign goals the last few years, officials said, but believe this year will be different.
“We have a solid team and plan in place to help us reach and hopefully exceed the $4.9 million goal,” said Dent Johnson, Fort Wayne BFGoodrich plant manager and the United Way’s volunteer campaign chair.
The community campaign supports several initiatives as well as more than 60 programs at 34 partner agencies, officials said. Among programs that are helped by the funds from the campaign is the 211 program, which is a phone number people can call to find health and human service information.
This can range from the location of a homeless shelter, a food bank or where to apply for help in paying a utility bill.
The 211 program has expanded from serving 13 counties in the area to 19, and calls have increased from 34,000 during the 2012-13 season to 44,000 so far in the 2013-14 season.
“It means that more people will receive the help they so desperately need,” Coffee said of the increase in calls.
Anyone wanting to contribute to the United Way’s Community Campaign can go online at www.unitedwayallencounty.org or call 422-4776 and ask for the staff accountant.