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Kay Seban’s mobility depends upon donations people give to United Way of Bartholomew County.
Three times over the past few years, the electric scooter she sometimes uses because of degenerative disc problems in her back has needed repairs.
And three times Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, a United Way-funded agency, has loaned her money for part of the work. She paid back each loan $25 at a time.
“I probably couldn’t function without them,” the 68-year-old Columbus resident said of the agency that also has raked her yard, shoveled her snow and winterized her garden.
During the times her scooter broke down, Seban said she had no other outlet for covering her sudden expenses.
Lincoln-Central is among part of the 26 agencies operating 36 different programs that have requested funding increases at the United Way 2013 Campaign Kick-off Breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday at Columbus’ Amazing Joe’s Grill.
Following the format of last year’s kickoff, the event has no speeches and instead is designed to give diners and donors a chance to meet and chat informally with agency and campaign leaders.
United Way President Mark Stewart said 15 agencies will get funding increases, partly because of last year’s record $4 million fund drive. The names of those agencies won’t be identified until Thursday, however.
This year’s fundraising goal is to top $4 million, according to United Way leaders.
United Way agencies lead senior wellness classes, fund youth sports, aid mentoring programs and rescue the struggling and abused, among other programs that each year touch an estimated 25,000 people — about a third of the county, according to United Way figures.
Sometimes, while filling needs in recent years, county-based agencies have had to stretch their budgets.
Lincoln-Central serves the poorest area of Columbus with two full-time staffers and some part-time help on an annual budget of $167,000. It received $40,000 from United Way last year, and has requested $70,000 for this year.
The additional $30,000 could allow it to launch a neighborhood revitalization program to improve homes structurally and boost families economically, said Diane Doup, community outreach coordinator.
The neighborhood center will be pushing for better housing-code enforcement as a step to avoid blighted housing, said Randy Allman, Lincoln-Central executive director.
“Right now, we see needs that are simply outweighing our financial capacity,” Doup said.
Roger Frick, president of the Indiana Association of United Ways, said that he believes today’s donors are motivated to help agencies
because of their bottom-line outcomes.
“Donors today care less about who specifically they are giving to and more about the actual impact of their giving (on clients),” said Frick, a 35-year veteran with United Way or its agencies.
Bartholomew County’s 2012 campaign led the state’s 64 United Ways in per-capita giving for the 11th straight year — this time at a
“Your community there always has been very civic-oriented,” said Frick, passing special praise to Cummins Inc. for leading the way in the campaign with its own $1.1 million record gift.
“I think the community has really stretched itself the last couple of years,” Stewart said.
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