If you haven’t made your donation to the 2020 United Way of Hamblen County campaign, it’s not too late to do so.
In fact, United Way of Hamblen County Executive Director Gary Matthews said Friday that all of the major donors have made their pledges, but the campaign is still $59,852 from the goal of $1,450,000.
“We’ve had a good campaign, but we’re still a little short,” Matthews said. “We need some help.”
“This time last year, we were $41,000 away from reaching our goal,” Matthews said. “This year, it’s even worse. We have $1,390,148, or 96 percent of the goal. It’s the same percentage, but we increased our goal by $15,000 this year. We are presently short $59,852.
“If we don’t have some folks that really come in and step forward, I don’t think we’re going to be able to make our goal,” he said.
A common misconception that many people have is that funds raised by the United Way of Hamblen County are shipped off elsewhere, and that it doesn’t help local people. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“We’re very concerned because we don’t have any major dollars out there,” Matthews said. “Our major contributors are in, so it’s just a little bit here and a little bit there. We’re very concerned about making our goal.”
Reasons given about not making the goal so far centers around decreases in all around giving.
“We are down in major firms giving, our employee campaigns are down in major firms,” Matthews said. “It’s hard to put your finger on. A lot of times during presidential campaign years, giving is down. Of course, this is not one (a presidential campaign year). I think there are still some economic uncertainty out there.
“With what is going on as far as our plants and auto parts suppliers in getting schedules years in advance of what is needed to be made, I think we’ve got some uncertainty there.”
Another factor is much of the older population who were large givers in the past have now retired.
“They were very loyal supporters over the years,” Matthews said. “Now that they’ve retired, you’ve got younger folks taking their place and they’re not as giving as those other folks. That is another situation we’re dealing with. We’re going to have to have some help.”
One thing that Morristown and Hamblen County has in its favor is that it is a giving community.
“Every year, we’ve got more and more needs, more and more folks are asking for funds this time of year,” he said.
The beauty of United Way is that one can make a pledge now and arrange for the payment to spread out in a number of ways.
“We’re not asking for money right now, we’re just asking for a pledge,” Matthews said. “That can be paid next year, quarterly, monthly, whatever payment schedule they’d like it to be. That’s very important.”
Matthews said that if the goal is not reached, agencies will get a reduced amount of funding.
“That’s very concerning,” Matthews said.
The recent Community Effort Against Spouse Abuse (CEASE) funding concerns will have no effect on its funding through United Way, according to Matthews.
“CEASE received some federal funding grants and they have been able to branch out to other communities,” Matthews said. “CEASE already had a base established in Hamblen County and in Claiborne County. That will continue and there is no interruption of services locally.”
If you live or work in Hamblen County, you are eligible for services from any of the United Way of Hamblen County’s 21 agencies, even if you live in another county.
“We are so fortunate to have some of the agencies we have,” Matthews said. “Many agencies are not located between Knoxville and the Tri-Cities, but we have a lot of those right here. That’s a plus. In this time of giving, we hope that people will think of their neighbor and give to the United Way.”
Those interested in making a pledge may call the United Way of Hamblen County office at 423-581-8601 or mail a donation to United Way of Hamblen County, P.O. Box 1794, Morristown, TN 37816.