Wiregrass United Way (WUW) has become a backbone for many local partner agencies through the funding received from them each year. Many nonprofit organizations are struggling while trying to keep up with larger and more strenuous caseloads brought on by the pandemic, but some local agencies have renewed hope for this year after WUW announced it had met its fundraising goal for 2020.
“This has been a challenging year for many organizations,” said Jessica Moore, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Ozark. “We knew that it was going to be a struggle for WUW to reach their goal. We even gave a donation and pushed advertising for their fundraisers because, really, they keep our doors open.”
Many local nonprofit organizations will receive various amounts of funding from WUW’s total of over $3 million. A lot of the organizations rely on these funds to keep services at little to no costs for participants and even for capital improvements that would otherwise be overlooked.
“An extra $400,000 is beyond amazing for these improvements,” said Pam Miles, Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention executive director. “We are able to maintain our buildings and create a great environment for families using our services. It also allows us to keep our technology up to date, which throughout COVID has been extremely needed.”
Most of these organizations not only rely on WUW, but also each other to keep up with their services and programs, so it is vital that they each receive the support in funding that they need.
“WUW does such a great job in selecting what agencies they provide funding to that it only makes sense for us to partner with other United Way agencies as well,” Judy Crowley, executive director of Coffee County Family Services Center said. “WUW makes sure that we all know each other and can work together. It’s a tremendous amount of support; I just can’t say enough good things about WUW.”
Funding is spread out through these agencies that provide a plethora of different programs that directly benefit the Wiregrass area. Programs for parent education, counseling, afterschool programs for children and much more that come at little to no cost to the participants, largely because of the funding they receive from WUW.
“We were nervous as to how it would affect us if our funding from WUW changed this year due to COVID. We worried that we would have to raise membership fees to compensate for the costs,” Moore said. “That would be the last thing we wanted to do because most of our members rely on those low costs. It makes our services affordable for all families. There aren’t many other programs like ours available so if we aren’t here to provide them then the kids just wouldn’t have them.”
These organizations have also directly benefitted the community throughout the pandemic through programs like the ones at Alfred Saliba Family Services Center in Dothan.
“We have been able to help people find jobs, provide transportation and even just provided essential hygiene items to people who have been struggling,” said the Executive Director Belinda Mitchell. “We are elated that WUW reached its goal. We receive state and federal funding as well but funding from WUW supplements basically all of our programs.”
WUW funds about 40 agencies all across the Wiregrass.
Sydney McDonald is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334.712.7906. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.