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GUEST COLUMN: Your gift stays in the community

By now, we’ve all heard the stories. Hard-working neighbors are facing job losses, cuts in income, and loss of health insurance. The elderly who are isolated, and youth that need help to get back on track. Increasing numbers of children are growing up in homes without adequate food and where housing is unstable or at risk. The number of local residents seeking help, often for the first time, is at an all time high including the need for food, shelter, counseling, transportation, health care, and support services. 

These challenges are being faced right on our doorsteps here in the heart of Crow Wing and Southern Cass Counties. Our United Way is focused on facing these issues head-on, to look for solutions, and work collaboratively with our partner agencies to make sure that a safety net of serving is here for today, and for the future. That’s where the work of our local United Way makes all the difference.

Your gift to our local United Way of Crow Wing and Southern Cass Counties stays right here in our community to build better lives in so many ways. And You are our partner in determining how local United Way funds are used. Every year, people from our community study the needs within our community, review the programs requesting funding, and decide where the money will have the most impact in the following focus areas: income, education and health.

 Grants awarded for the 2011-2012 year are: EDUCATION - $78,916: Lutheran Social Services, Pillager Family Council, Crisis Line, Timber Bay/Youth Investment Foundation, Kinship Partners, Junior Achievement, Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project, Girls Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines, Confidence Learning Center, The Warehouse, Northland Arboretum, C-I Schools Youth in Government and Civics, Minnesota Licensed Family Childcare Association, Lakes Area Senior Activity Center, Dollywood Imagination Library; INCOME - $17,412.50: Cuyuna Range Food Shelf, Lutheran Social Services, Salem WEST, Lakes Area Food Shelf, Pine River Area Food Shelf, Lakes Area Senior Activity Center; HEALTH -  $48,340: Pine River – Backus Family Center, Bridges of Hope, Crow Wing County Victim Services, Sexual Assault Services, Cuyuna Range Youth Center, Family Safety Network, The Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, National Alliance on Mental Illness MN, Lakes Area Senior Activity Center, ECHC Foundation Pink Ribbon Cupboard.

Thank you to the community and to the participants of the United Way Chili Cook-off on Wednesday. Six hundred and fifty tickets were sold to community members who sampled 34 different recipes.

MONICA NIEMAN is executive director of the United Way of Crow Wing and Southern Cass Counties.