United Way increases funding to Cabarrus County agencies

With the help of United Way, two dozen Cabarrus County agencies can continue to help make small miracles happen daily.

That’s the view of Sarah Porter, Cabarrus community director for the United Way of Central Carolinas.

The United Way earlier this summer distributed funding to 24 agencies that provide human services in Cabarrus County. Eleven of them got more than last year, eight got the same amount and five got less.

For the third year in a row, the United Way of Central Carolinas beat its campaign goal last fall by $106,686, raising more than $21.5 million. The five-county United Way increased its funding of Cabarrus agencies by more than $38,000 this year, to more than $1.2 million, the first increase for Cabarrus agencies since 2010.

The United Way will launch its annual fundraising campaign with its annual Season of Caring Sept. 8-11. The event also allows the community to learn about services the agencies provide in Cabarrus County.

The United Way of Central Carolinas focuses on three areas – children and youth, housing and stability, and health and mental health – through 82 agencies that help more than 300,000 people annually throughout its five-county region.

United Way funding for the region went from $16.5 million to $17 million, and 47 of the 82 agencies got funding increases. In three years, the regional United Way has increased its support by 8 percent.

In Cabarrus, 24 agencies provide 31 programs to nearly 20,000 people.

And the needs of the community continue to grow, Porter said.

Each agency that applies for United Way funding gets a visit from one of about 40 volunteers. The volunteers review each agency proposal and the community’s needs to determine funding levels for each.

Volunteers monitor the progress of agencies’ programs, starting in February and ending in July with funding distribution.

“We are still in need of businesses and organizations to join our efforts,” said Porter. “Businesses can get involved by engaging their employees, making a corporate donation or making United Way the beneficiary of a special event.

“And individuals can support the campaign by making a financial gift as well. Every gift helps, no matter the size. Every dollar raised in Cabarrus County stays in Cabarrus County and helps our neighbors who need it most.”

Kimberly Strong is executive director of Cabarrus Meals on Wheels, which received $70,000 from the United Way and was one of its top-funded agencies this year.

Founded in 1974, Cabarrus Meals on Wheels’ 500 volunteers drive 29 routes to deliver hot, nutritionally balanced meals each weekday to 400 elderly and disabled people, helping them to remain independent. In 2013, 117,000 meals were delivered.

“A majority of our clients live on … an average of $800 per month,” said Strong. “We provide a service to a vulnerable population. … the basic necessity of food.”

Volunteers also provide a daily health check, pet food, emergency groceries, birthday greetings and holiday gifts.

The Coltrane LIFE Center in Concord got nearly $70,000 from the United Way for this year. Executive director Susan Caudle said the center provides day health-care services to seniors and adults with disabilities so they can live at home rather than in nursing homes.

Eighty-two participants are enrolled, and an average of 46 each day visit the center, which is open 7:15 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. Its services include health monitoring, medication administration, bathing, personal care assistance and health education.

LIFE Center participants also get breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. Transportation is offered to and from the center, and to medical appointments.

“Participants also can take part in a variety of social activities, such as music, crafts, exercise, field trips, discussions/reminiscence therapy, pet therapy, intergenerational and spiritual activities,” said Caudle, as well as beauty and barber shop services.

“And the center helps support family caregivers by offering a monthly educational/support group as well as counseling and referral services,” she said.

Without annual funding, Caudle said, senior adults could be prematurely placed in assisted living or nursing facilities.

“Each day, participants and caregivers tell staff that they do not know what they would do without the Center,” said Caudle. “Its services truly improve lives.”