To the editor,

The United Way of Greater Oswego County (UWGOC) has been helping county residents for over 85 years now. UWGOC is an organization designed to raise funds for distribution to human services agencies throughout the county, and accomplishes a great amount of this effort through citizen volunteers. They populate the Board of Directors and oversee the Allocations Committee.

The Allocations Committee meets with all agencies that seek funds from local citizens’ contributions. They review the amount requested, the program for which they are implementing the funds, proven outcomes, and community impact. This committee makes sure that all funds raised by UWGOC during the annual Workplace Campaign stay in Oswego County, and have traditionally impacted over 50,000 residents annually.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 is continuing to affect more lives and livelihood this year. Oswego County has faced rising unemployment due to the pandemic. Household income has decreased due to less overtime, increased childcare costs, and lost work or a cut in pay.  Many families are impacted by the significant decline in restaurants and bars. Small businesses were forced to close.

The unintended consequence of these pandemic work interruptions is this: the UWGOC is facing a 30-40 percent campaign funding deficit as measured by year-over-year results. United Way has also endured a decline in revenue from being forced to cancel major fundraising events over the last year.  At the same time, the needs of county residents have risen by leaps and bounds. At a time when Oswego County residents need a helping hand the very most, funding to help agencies has become intensely limited. What that means is that we may have to fund 30-40 percent fewer programs or decrease the funding to certain programs. These are vital programs for our neighbors and community members and include services for women and children who are domestic violence victims; food pantries in the county; programs for pre-school and after school development; help for Oswego County senior citizens. Unfortunately, the list goes on.  What does this look like in real time? Here is an example: If a partner agency was able to provide nutritious meals to 100 children during an after-school program, now we may only be able to fund about 70 meals. As you can imagine, we don’t want those other 30 children to go without a meal… and we don’t want our other programs to have to cut their programs back either.

It is not too late to help! At this time, we invite all Oswego County residents to consider making a meaningful gift to the UWGOC. The 29 programs that your generous donations fund will benefit your family member, friend, neighbor, and customer. This enables a better way of life for Oswego County residents, and why we refer to this philosophy as “Live United”.

If you have a workplace campaign for the UWGOC, please consider reopening it for additional contributions. If you are a small business owner, and want to help, your contribution is still needed. If you are a community member and want to help, please do so by making a tax-deductible gift. It will help Oswego County citizens during the long-lasting challenge that Covid-19 has presented.

For more information and to make a donation, please visit www.oswegounitedway.org, or please call (315) 593-1900 and press option 2 to speak to Kate Davis Pitsley, the Resource Development Director of UWGOC.

Yours in service,

Robert Rolfe, President, Board of Directors

Patrick Dewine, Executive Director

United Way of Greater Oswego County

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