Archived Story

Local cancer services, YMCA, Big Brothers and Sisters to receive United Way funding

Published 9:37pm Friday, October 9, 2009

The United Way of Greater Niles announced this week its plans to provide funding to multiple non-profit organizations serving the Niles area over the next three years in an effort to make a lasting positive impact in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs.

Volunteers for the United Way of Southwest Michigan carefully reviewed more than $400,000 in grant requests to determine the best use of grant dollars.

“These are never easy decisions to make,” said Jon Martin, President of the United Way of Greater Niles Board of Directors. “There are so many worthy programs and this is a time of need in many areas. The board worked very hard to determine the best mix of programs to serve the Greater Niles area.”

New impact areas for the United Way of Greater Niles guided the grant decision-making process.

The decision to adopt the new impact areas of education, income, health and basic needs was based on a recent community needs assessment and data collection in partnership with United Way of Southwest Michigan.

The board reviewed existing data on needs and issues in the greater Niles area and reviewed the results of community focus groups in the are the four previously mentioned areas were chosen based on that information.

Goals for each impact area were also developed. They include:

- Education: Providing educational opportunities that help youth to graduate on time and prepare children to enter school ready to learn.

- Income: Increasing income through training and education and financial literacy.

- Health: Providing programs that help ensure babies are born healthy and that children reach developmental milestones on time, and teaching people to make healthy decisions while promoting access to healthcare.

- Basic Needs: Providing assistance during immediate crisis by removing barriers to self-sufficiency and ensuring people feel free from harm.

The grant process was opened up to any non-profit agency serving the greater Niles area that met United Way funding standards and fit within these impact areas.

“I think it was good for United Way to go through this process,” said Kathy Rossow, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien & Cass. “As an agency director, it is always frightening to see a potential funder disappear from our books. But, we need to recognize that community needs change and if United Way is going to continue to be relevant, they need to know those needs and change accordingly. We were pleased to receive United Way funding and look forward to growing and expanding our mentoring program with those dollars.”

Those organizations to receive funding throughout the area include:

Berrien Regional Education Service Agency, Parents As Teachers

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien & Cass County, Mentoring program

Boy Scout of America, Lasalle Council, Traditional Scouting, Junior Achievement, In-school program

Region IV Area Agency on Aging, Senior Volunteer and Intergenerational Program, Job Training, Health Promotion for Seniors

YMCA – Niles, Pre-school scholarships

Multi Cultural Involvement Council, Fresh Start

American Red Cross, Work Training Classes, Health Education Classes, Single Family and Community Disaster Relief

Berrien County Cancer Services, Support Services for cancer patients

Child & Family Services, Adult Day Services, Link, Safe Shelter, Guardianship Services
Hospice At Home, Lory’s Place

Samaritan Counseling Center, Counseling Services

Berrien County Council for Children, Children’s Assessment Center

Christian Services, Prescription Assistance

Salvation Army – Niles, Emergency Services

The United Way of Greater Niles worked closely with United Way of Southwest Michigan during this funding process which will continue to work with the agencies to track their progress and program evaluation, Martin said.

In addition, United Way of Southwest Michigan will work with the Greater Niles Board of Directors to run the 2009 campaign.

“We are fortunate to have this partnership with United Way of Southwest Michigan,” Martin said. “In these difficult economic times we need to operate economically. By working together, I think we can raise more dollars and do it with less expense. It is basic economies of scale. We can do more to help the Greater Niles community if we can spend less to raise more.”

Anna Murphy, president of the United Way of Southwest Michigan, is happy to be working with the Greater Niles United Way.

“The board members have great passion for improving the lives of people in the greater Niles area,” she said. “I am glad that United Way of Southwest Michigan can help them achieve that goal. I look forward to this growing partnership.”

Working together will also provide more consistency for the agencies as they track progress. “With United Way of Southwest Michigan handling the community impact process, the agencies will have one United Way to report to,” Martin said. “Our board will continue to monitor and be involved in the process but United Way of Greater Niles and United Way of Southwest Michigan fund many of the same agencies. I think this will make it easier on the agencies.”

Members of both United Way offices will help in running the upcoming community campaign.

“There are many people who need the services supported by United Way of Greater Niles,” Martin said. “We need everyone in the community who can to step forward and participate in this campaign to make it a success.”

The campaign is scheduled to begin at the end of September and conclude by late November or mid-December.

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