The United Way of Sampson County has been working for the last 25 years to advance the common good by focusing on education, income and health by developing the best opportunities for youth, busy working adults and seniors.
Founded in 1991 with 15 original members, the local organization recently kicked off its 25th campaign, setting this year’s goal at $175,000. Board members Dottie McCullen and Patty Cherry, who have both been members since the organization’s inception, are proud of the fact that every dollar raised goes directly back into Sampson County.
“The main reason I have stuck with United Way for so long and continue to support it is because all the money we raise stays right here in Sampson County,” McCullen said.
United Way works with 11 partner agencies in Sampson County, including six original partners, to provide funding to help offset costs that would otherwise not receive funding. According to Nancy Carr, United Way executive director, 97 percent of what is raised each year is dispersed among the 11 partner agencies. While more money might leave local communities under other UW chapters, that is not the case with Sampson’s. Carr attested that out of all money raised, a mere 3 percent is used for the group’s license, print materials, office space and miscellaneous expenses.
The rest goes right back into the community.
“We’re very proud of that,” Carr asserted. “Some other United Ways can’t say that. We’re here to help our county.”
Throughout the local chapter’s 25 years of service, 22 different agencies have been touched in some way by funding through United Way and the organization has raised over $3 million.
“The agencies we support must have a purpose and a meaning,” McCullen said. “We want to help as many agencies as possible, but we are very guarded in how we agree to spend the money.”
Carr credited several of the organization’s “pacesetters” with getting the 2016 campaign started right. To date, 70 percent of this year’s goal has been reached. With six weeks left until the end of the year, board members are pretty confident they will surpass their goal.
Some years, the total raised may not have been what board members had hoped, but McCullen said once people started seeing the results and that the money truly stays in Sampson County, they jumped on board and in 2003, raised the most ever raised during a campaign — $220,000.
Carr said the perception by some is that money raised here goes elsewhere. That could not be further from the truth, she said, with United Way officials stressing to everyone that money raised locally stays local.
Current partner agencies with United Way are CAFE (Clinton Area Foundation for Education), Boy Scouts of America Tuscarora Council, Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, Enlighten the World Ministries, Girl Scouts-North Carolina Coastal Plains, Sampson County Child Advocacy Center, Sampson County 4-H, Sampson County Fireman’s Association, Sampson County Friends of Education, Special Olympics Sampson County and Wheelchair Ramp Program.
“We have tried everything over the years to generate the most money we could,” McCullen said. “We have had to be pretty creative.”
It is important that everyone know just how much money goes back into the community, Carr noted, with United Way members volunteering time and engaging in new initiatives in a continuing effort to keep costs down and overhead at a minimum.
“This is Sampson County’s money,” McCullen said. “We want to do what is right with this money. We put the money where we know it’s going to help the most.”
Some agencies have been turned down due to the fact they do not meet United Way’s guidelines. For any group, whether selected as a partner agency or not, the United Way reaches out to give them tips and assistance as much as they can.
“I feel like we truly made an impact with the agencies we have helped,” McCullen added. “It’s not always easy. Sometimes we have to turn agencies away.”
For the last 25 years, United Way has helped the Sampson County Fireman’s Association by purchasing fire safety and prevention materials to distribute to all schools. It’s choices like that that make Cherry proud to be part of United Way.
“United Way impacts the children of Sampson County,” Cherry attested. “We strive to make the biggest impact we can.”
The United Way board is currently accepting applications for the 2017 funding cycle.
For more information, contact the United Way of Sampson County at 910-592-4263 or visit www.unitedwaysampson.org. The application is available online by visiting www.unitedwaysampson.org and visiting the Agency Resources tab.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.