|Wakulla Times Article--United Way--Sept. 2011|
BY SHERIFF DAVID HARVEY
Each year the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office takes part in the United Way campaign to help members of our community. The sheriff’s office is one agency that works with our employees to reinforce the importance of giving to the United Way and helping other residents of Wakulla County who may be less fortunate than us.
During the month of July the United Way of the Big Bend, Wakulla County Committee had a team of volunteers who helped allocate the contributions from the previous year and are now preparing to start another campaign to provide precious dollars to non-profit agencies that serve our community.
Last year Road Patrol Captain Chris Savary was the campaign chairman. Captain Savary stepped down from the post this year but my Public Information Officer Keith Blackmar stepped in to represent the sheriff’s office and help out during the new campaign.
There are so many needs within the community and the United Way team of volunteers was tasked with the assignment of slicing up a financial pie of $118,336 into 24 pieces. Those pieces represented the 24 agencies that made presentations to the Allocations Team over two consecutive Wednesdays at the Tallahassee Community College (TCC) Wakulla Center.
There were also two agencies that received small donations from United Way, The Dick Howser Center and KIDS, Inc., because someone from Wakulla County designated a contribution to those agencies. Whenever you contribute to United Way, you can designate your money to benefit a specific agency. The Dick Howser Center ($214.50) and KIDS Inc. ($19.50) did not request any United Way funds during the allocation meetings, but still received their small designations from earmarked contributors.
The 24 agencies that made presentations to the Allocations Team represented a wide variety of services. Those individuals working for the agencies were given 20 minutes to speak about what they do for Wakulla County and an additional 10 minutes for the team to ask questions about their programs.
The presentations were both informational and emotional as all of the agencies have huge needs and shrinking budgets in our slumping economy. Some of the agencies brought in individuals who use their services while others such as Big Bend Hospice, used a music therapist to sing a song that was played at the funeral of one of their clients who recently passed away.
• The Alzheimer’s Project offers services to clients who suffer from the puzzling disease, but they also offer services to assist the caregivers who often struggle for months without receiving breaks. The toll on the caregiver can be severe. The Alzheimer’s Project serves 480 Wakulla residents and received $1,500.
• Big Bend Hospice offers care to the terminally ill, but also offers services to family members of those individuals who have only a short time to live. Many of the agency representatives who appeared before our United Way team live and work among us in Wakulla County. Big Bend Hospice received $5,000 and serves 131 residents.
• Legal Services of North Florida helps residents who have legal issues that need to be resolved but do not have the money to afford an attorney. Their clients raise legal issues over family disputes, housing, public benefits, dissolutions of marriage for domestic violence victims, monthly child support and disability payments. Legal Services of Florida serves 533 residents and was given $593.
• The Early Learning Coalition-Big Bend’s goal is to provide Child Care Tuition Assistance to provide access to affordable, quality child care for low income working families. The assistance allows these families to use their money for other expenses while still giving their children top notch child care while they work. Early Learning Coalition serves 322 residents and received $5,051.90.
• Big Bend Cares provides free, rapid HIV testing in the county along with information about HIV and how to avoid the disease. The organization also provides education for individuals on the practice of safe sex, the use of condoms, teen pregnancy and risky behavior connected to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Big Bend Cares serves 325 residents and received $600.
• The Suwannee River Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America allowed Wakulla participants to receive 682 rank advancements in 2010 and more than 244 earned merit badges. Wakulla also had five scouts receive their Eagle Award, the highest level of scouting. The Boy Scouts served 378 residents and received $575.
• The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a faith-based organization that maintains Huddle Groups in schools to spread faith in God and love for others to students who might not receive any faith education. FCA serves 581 residents and received $250.
• Elder Care Services hopes to expand the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) to individuals age 55 and older. The program provides opportunities for older residents to keep themselves alert, involved and productive by using their experience and talents through meaningful civic engagement. They serve three residents and received $306.75.
• Capital Area Community Action Agency is new to Wakulla County. The agency administers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Weatherization Assistance Program for residents. United Way money helps CACAA provide 1,254 residents with services and the agency received $100.
• Refuge House serves residents who have become victims of domestic or sexual abuse find a way out of their situation while also providing a safe place to stay. Refuge House serves 100 residents and received $6,500.
• The Wakulla County Senior Citizens Council provides more than 27,000 home delivered and congregate meals while also providing 348 hours of personal care, 94 hours of in-home respite and 8,288 units for the emergency alert system clients. The center also services Alzheimer’s and dementia cases in the homes of the residents eliminating the need for premature placement in nursing homes. The senior center served 1,084 residents and received $83,555.29.
• Capital Region YMCA-Camp Indian Springs has youth programs during the summer months that include both day and overnight programs. They also have a skateboard park. YMCA serves 400 residents and received $100.
• The American Red Cross responds to disasters within the community as well as providing educational materials for disaster preparedness. Red Cross served 21,000 residents and received $1,250.89.
• America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend provides food to the less fortunate in Wakulla County. More than 195,000 meals were provided in the county with food distribution through area churches and other faith-based organizations. American’s Second Harvest served 900 residents and received $1,000.
• Neighborhood Health Services works with other agencies to address health services for the medically underserved in Wakulla County. The agency provides physical exams, health education, management of chronic diseases, eye care, immunizations and referrals and specialty care. They serve 250 residents and received $1,000.
• The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association provides a SportsAbility program for residents with disabilities at the Ochlockonee River State Park. Other activities are held outside Wakulla County. The association serves 50 residents and received $500.
• 2-1-1 Big Bend is an agency that can be a resource for those who call them. If you have issues related to family, finances, employment, domestic abuse, housing, education, government, substance abuse, suicide, medical, disability or mental health, 2-1-1 has answers. 2-1-1 serves 900 residents and received $570.
• The Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle served 215 residents in 17 troops from kindergarten to high school. The girls work community service projects and earn badges in areas of interest. Wakulla County Girl Scouts sold more than 28,000 cookies while learning business skills. The Girls Scouts received $750.
• The We Care Network of the Capital Medical Society Foundation organizes and delivers specialty medical and dental care to low income, uninsured patients. The organization also helps residents who may not qualify as low-income patients find alternate resources such as Medicaid, Medicare and Vocational Rehabilitation. We Care served 130 residents and received $1,000.
• The Office of the Public Guardian provides guardianship services to vulnerable adults adjudicated incapacitated who have no resources to obtain a guardian. As guardians the office provides services including: securing and overseeing any benefits the person is entitled to receive; evaluating the personal familial, medical and care needs of the ward and evaluation and placement in a living setting. The office serves six residents and received $500.
• The Center for Independent Living of North Florida, also known as Ability 1st, targets low income individuals who need wheelchair ramps constructed or medical equipment loans or disposable medical supplies. Ability 1st serves 25 residents and received $900.
• Big Brothers Big Sisters provides volunteers who serve as mentors for young adults who can create a long lasting relationship with our youths. Big Brothers Big Sisters serves 40 residents and received $3,500.
• Capital City Youth Services provides group counseling services to Wakulla County school students. The counseling addresses issues such as anger management techniques, stress management, goal setting, career development and fostering of study skills. Capital City Youth Services serves 85 residents and received $1,000.
• Special Olympics Florida-Wakulla County was the final agency to appear before the Allocations Team. Special Olympics allow Wakulla County youths with disabilities to compete in local, regional and state sports competitions. The funding provides uniforms for athletes and funding to pay for travel to competitions. Special Olympics in Wakulla serve 65 residents and received $2,000.
In total, the $118,336.83 worth of United Way funds will serve 29,257 residents. Some residents will be served by more than one agency. But while our economy continues to struggle it is comforting to know that there are many people in the community who are still giving to United Way charities and the money that is raised in Wakulla County stays in Wakulla to serve our residents.
The United Way donation form has a method for you to use payroll deduction or pledge contributions through cash, check or credit card. In addition, you can contribute and designate your contribution to a specific UWBB agency. For more information, call UWBB at (850) 414-0844. You will be glad you did.