United Way helping its partners

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

In the midst of fundraising efforts that kicked off in October, the United Way of Prince Edward County has helped with everything from paying for swimming lessons at the YMCA, to helping send 4-H members to a show.

“We were able to do so many things with the money that was provided to us from the United Way,” said Stephen Blewett, executive director of the Southside Virginia Family YMCA in an email.

The undertaking included offering free swim lessons and pool time to 42 middle school students from Nottoway County, and serving approximately 33 campers per week in the YMCA’s “Summer Camp Blast,” Blewett said.

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“And the list goes on and on,” he said.

Admittedly, the United Way is trying to generate good cheer and support toward its effort, having sent out over 800 letters soliciting donations in October. Most of the money it raises is generated in the first six months of the campaign, and the group is hoping to be thought warmly of as people look to make end-of-the-year donations, said Rucker Snead, president of the all-volunteer board.

This year, the United Way has a goal of raising $60,000 to distribute to 20 partners. Nearly 94 percent of the money the group raises goes to its nonprofit partners, Snead said.

The United Way received a grant from the Walter J. Payne Foundation, and they requested photos and stories about how United Way funding has benefited the community and partner organizations, Board Member Rhonda Arnold said. The Payne grant has long been a funding source for the United Way, providing $9,000 this year.

Meanwhile, United Way funds also helped send a group of 4-H members to the four-day show, “which is such a big accomplishment for them,” said Cathy Duker, 4H Leader with Riding Star 4-H Club. “They work really hard all year to get there. Horse shows can be very expensive and some of these kids would not be able to go to this show if it was not for the help of United Way. This is something that they will carry with them and remember for the rest of their lives.”

And, there’s the story from Virginia Legal Aid Society (VLAS): a 20-year-old client had suffered from an uncontrollable seizure disorder his entire life, said Cliff Glickman, grant writing and communications coordinator for Virginia Legal Aid Society Inc.

“In addition to asthma, a learning disorder, and migraine headaches, he endured seizures at least three times per week despite medical treatment,” Glickman continued. “Nevertheless, once this young man reached adulthood, the Social Security Administration determined that he was not disabled under the adult criteria and terminated his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.”

A legal aid paralegal accepted this client’s case for representation in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Armed with medical evidence, and supported by detailed testimony the paralegal elicited from the client and his mother, the resulting finding was that the client was still disabled, Glickman said.

“Thanks to VLAS’s efforts, our client continues to receive SSI disability benefits of $750 each month, benefits that help him continue to afford his medical care and maintain a level of independence.”

Noted Arnold of the story, “it’s also good for us to hear how our efforts might have made a difference.”