The Williams County Mayors Association heard about the United Way of Williams County at its meeting Wednesday evening.
Chasity Yoder, who became executive director of the organization about two years ago, said the fundraising goal for 2019 is $360,000 to fund 37 different programs while also offering grants.
“We try to be the hand raisers, the game changers; We try to make a difference in the community,” she said. “How we do that is by bringing people together, so talking to people and finding out what the issues are in the community and how we can make an impact in the community.”
The mission, she continued, is to improve the quality of life within the community by connecting volunteers, resources and organizations to advance health, education and financial stability.
One of the ways United Way meets that mission is through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides age-appropriate books to children up to 5 years old.
It has also recently started receiving government funding.
“That is our largest funding program and it costs us about $30,000 a year up until the state approved the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library,” Yoder said. “Now, we are getting a grant, basically, monthly that’s cut in half. So, we’re excited about that.”
With that extra funding, the United Way hopes to reach 100 percent of children enrolled in the program in the county.
Already, Yoder said the county is the fifth highest in the state in terms of enrollees.
“It’s a free program and we’ve been pushing it to all children in the county, no matter the income,” she said. “We just feel like reading is very important to children and helps them get a jump start on their education.”
The United Way is hosting a “Boots & Bowties for Books” event that includes a silent auction and entertainment in March to help raise money for the program.
One program Yoder wants more participation in is the Let Me Play program that is funded by United Way but administered by the Williams County Family YMCA.
“Children who might not be able to participate in things such as sports, 4-H or maybe band, (the program) gives them the opportunity to be able to do those things, to pay for those fees,” she said. “Our kids need to be taking advantage of it because we all know we want our youth involved in those types of things.”
The forms for this and other programs can be found online.
Yoder said United Way isn’t just about funding, it can also be used to help bring different organizations together for the betterment of both — and the community.
For example, Bryan City Schools’ Bear Bag program — which distributes food to local students for the weekend — is running out of resources.
“They send home 40-45 book bags filled with food a week; It costs them $300-$400,” Yoder said. “I sat down and met with (the program administrator) and it’s about collaborating, let me see who I can work with to make this happen. When we all come together and work together, we can move the needle that much further.”