Fundraiser becomes catalyst for changeChances are you know someone the United Way of Superior-Douglas County will help this year.
By: Maria Lockwood, The Daily Telegram
Chances are you know someone the United Way of Superior-Douglas County will help this year. The organization’s reach extends from giving a homeless family shelter to teaching a Boy Scout to tie a square knot, providing medical equipment for local seniors to offering financial counseling to a couple in debt.
“We like what the United Way does and we’re an important part of the Superior-Douglas County community,” said Kevin Soucie of Canadian National, who presented the agency with a check for $2,670 Tuesday morning.
The funds from the freight railroad’s community investment program gave the United Way’s campaign a boost. Yet the group has only met 90 percent of its goal, which was raised to $420,000 this year. The 2007-’08 campaign ends in March.
“The bottom line is not about the amount of money raised, but rather the difference that was made in the community,” said Kathi Madsen, executive director of the Superior-Douglas County United Way.
“We’re here to serve people,” said Mary Shaw, president of the organization’s board of directors.
Once known as simply a fundraising agency, the United Way switched gears last year to serve as a catalyst for change. Madsen brought her grantwriting and networking skills to the table to secure joint grants for emergency shelter and rural transportation. Bringing local agencies in on the grant application process reduces competition.
“We’re competing against 71 other counties, but together we’re Douglas County,” Madsen said.
The group was a partner in the Stuff the Bus campaign that provided school supplies to more than 900 youth and has been distributing prescription drug discount cards throughout the county.
In the past five years, the United Way of Superior-Douglas County has allocated more than $1.6 million to agencies that provide direct service to those who are most vulnerable. This year, the organization will support 31 different requests from 26 different groups or agencies, including the Aging Resource Center of Douglas County, Challenge Center and Lake Superior Community Health Clinic.
Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, applauded the group’s efforts in an e-mail.
“Those in need in the community benefit from your goodness,” he said.
Soucie said CN has many employees in the area, including the Pokagema Yard off of Highway 105 in Oliver.
“We plan to be here a long time,” Soucie said. “We plan to work with the United Way for a long time.”
While a number of businesses have stepped up to the plate to increase donations to the United Way, the poor economy continues to take its toll on fundraising efforts.
The organization focuses efforts to other agencies, but it isn’t the only avenue. What’s important is that the community responds to needs, whether with financial donations, volunteer time or food drives, Madsen said.
“We all know someone who needs assistance whether it’s the person next to us in church, or down the street,” she said. “We just need to figure out, as a community, a way to support them when they need it the most.”
Call Maria Lockwood at call (715) 395-5025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.