continued A volunteer board of community members reviews applications for funding and makes a recommendations to the United Way Board of Directors, who makes the final decisions.
“In many respects, that’s what makes the United Way so unique,” Bernardi said. “There are so many levels of accountability and impact for the community, and every dollar is used for its intended purpose.”
Bernardi said that another unique benefit of donating to the United Way is that donors can contribute via payroll deductions.
Many smaller agencies and charities don’t have the resources to offer that service.
The benefit, Bernardi said, is that it might be easier for someone to give $10 a week than to give $500 in one lump sum.
Of all the services the United Way helps support, Bernardi said mental health is one that has needed assistance most in recent years.
Dale Anne Wolter, who co-leads the Champlain Valley Chapter of the Compassionate Friends with her friend, Sophie Mitsglou, echoed the need for more funding for mental health services.
The group helps family members who have experienced the death of a child deal with grief in a positive way.
“I’m so used to fundraising now, but when you lose a child, those are funds you don’t want to raise,” Wolter said.
Both Wolter and Mitsglou have lost a child in a car accident, and they helped each other go through the grieving process.
They have been involved with Compassionate Friends for about 15 years, and Woltner began volunteering for the United Way about 3 years ago.
Now, she said her own group is able to receive the money it needs and she is able to reach out further into her community.
“I had no idea of the vastness of how the United Way helps people,” Woltner said. “I now understand the number of other agencies that also need help, so we can better budget for Compassionate Friends and help get everyone the funding they need.”