HIGH POINT, N.C. - United Way of Greater High Point expects its annual fund drive to fall up to $300,000 short its $4.5 million goal, a shortfall it says likely will trigger cuts of seven percent to 10 percent in funding for its 29 partner agencies.
"The anticipated drop in United Way funds will have devastating consequences on some of Greater High Point's most vulnerable citizens," Bobby Smith, United Way president, says in a statement.
Those agencies are seeing rising demand for services, he says, particularly for emergency assistance such as food, rent, utilities, prescription medication, and clothing.
Funding cuts would come on top of five percent cuts those agencies took in the current fiscal year after last year's annual drive raised just over $4.5 million.
United Way this year also instituted a pay freeze and cut spending for travel, conferences and training.
As of Monday, the drive had raised just over $3.3 million, or 73 percent of the goal.
Smith says United way "wanted to make our community aware of this situation with the campaign at this point because there is still time for people hearing this message to take action to lessen the deficit we are facing."
United Way recently asked partner agencies for details on how cuts of seven percent to 10 percent would affect them, and the responses show the cuts would reduce service at a time of surging demand for services fueled by the downturn in the economy.
More people are at risk for eviction or foreclosure, for example, and homeless shelters at agencies like Open Door Ministries and Salvation Army are at or near capacity.
Domestic violence shelters and substance-abuse programs are seeing growing caseloads, common side effects of a bad economy, United Way says, and school guidance counselors are calling in record numbers to seek help for kids and families.
And Senior Resources of Guilford reports an increase in the number of elderly adults requesting assistance with food and to receive "mobile meals," while the Boys & Girls Clubs reports that 92 percent of club members live in poverty.
"We knew our 2009 goal was ambitious in light of the economy," Smith says, "but with needs in our community so great, and increasing every day, our volunteers felt so strongly that we couldn't attempt to raise less for our partner agencies."
And he emphasizes the campaign is still active.
"Every single dollar matters at this point," he says.