NORWICH – The Chenango County United Way Campaign will come to a close on Friday, Dec. 29. With only three and a half weeks left in the campaign, the United Way is facing a difficult season, and its community partners are beginning to get nervous.
At this time last year, the Chenango United Way had raised $401,000; unfortunately this year they have raised slightly more than half this amount. As of Dec. 1, the United Way reported raising only $244,000. “We have never been this far behind in the eight years I have been here,” said Chenango United Way Executive Director Elizabeth Monaco. “All of the local services rely on United Way funding each year to provide their services. If we do not raise enough money, some programs will be de-funded and a huge unmet need will occur.”
Each year, United Way dollars are used to fund programs for Opportunities for Chenango, Catholic Charities and The Place, along with many others. “The United Way is in the middle of all the good things that happen in this community,” said Craig Cashman of OFC. According to him, OFC primarily uses United Way dollars for four different programs: Headstart, which provides preschool services to low-income families; the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Transitional Housing program, provides shelter for homeless families; and a literacy volunteers program that provides basic literacy skills for individuals who do not know how to read. All of the programs would be adversely affected by a weak United Way Campaign, but the transitional housing program would be hit the hardest. “That program would be disbanded all together. It would be a dramatic shift for the community,” Cashman said, explaining that this is the only transitional housing program in the county.