The Daily Courier Logo
Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
8:20 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Talk of the Town: United Way expands with public's help

The year 2011 was a year of dramatic transformation and renewal for the United Way of Yavapai County. With our reorganization in April and the move of our offices to Prescott, we slashed more than $52,000 from our overhead through the end of our fiscal year, June 30 - that's $52,000 more we can devote to our Community Impact Initiative programs and other deserving activities that help those who need it most.

Our transformation from a typical United Way pass-through agency - collecting donations for specific nonprofits that are then paid by United Way to them - to our Community Impact Initiative was launched in 2009 with five programs that expanded to 13 in 2010. Thirty-two county nonprofits collaborated to get these programs off the ground. This year, an additional 110 county nonprofits and service groups joined in to help expand the reach of these programs to our most vulnerable neighbors - testament to the power of focusing donor dollars on collaborative programs and not individual agencies so we no longer compete with county nonprofits for those scarce donor dollars.

In calendar year 2011, United Way provided $131,711 in cash support to our 13 Community Impact Programs and another $30,405 from donors who wanted their dollars to go to 48 Yavapai County nonprofits - for a total of $162,116. We began 2012 by sending almost $30,000 to our Community Impact Programs and nearly $10,200 in designated donations.

We are very proud to report that these 13 programs made a huge difference over the past year. Here are some highlights (a complete report is available in our December 2011 newsletter located at www.unitedwayyapavai.org under "Yavapai News"):

• The Hunger Collaborative served more than 62,000 meals to food-insecure Quad-Cities residents.

• Volunteer drivers of the People Who Care Critical Transportation program provided 500 to 700 round trips a month free to more than 450 seniors without transportation. For many of these homebound folks, their driver may be the only person they talk to that week.

• The Yavapai Family Advocacy Center helped 270 adults and 158 children reduce the trauma of abuse by providing a team approach in a safe and supportive place.

• The Verde Food Council implemented its "Voice of the Hungry Action Plan" to establish 11 school/community gardens, weekend backpack food for kids in two Verde Valley schools and 16 classes focused on how best to buy and prepare nutritious food with limited dollars.

• 1,500 people joined The Sedona Time Bank to volunteer at local nonprofits so they can receive social and health services they would otherwise have to pay for.

• Nearly 4,000 parents learned how to help their kids avoid substance abuse via the Youth Count/MATForce "Parenting Education on Substance Abuse" program.

• 62 teenagers were trained in the North Star Peer Assistance Youth Leadership Mentoring program (and 40 new students are currently enrolled) to help their peers abstain from risk-taking behaviors. Nearly 1,400 students have been positively influenced by this program.

In addition to these programs, United Way collaborated with APS and The American Red Cross to distribute nearly 170 cords of wood to 132 struggling families via our "Project Stay Warm" project. APS trims and cuts trees year round, splits it and transfers it to the Red Cross grounds on Sandretto, where we handle the qualifying and distribution.

We also support Catholic Charities Community Services' annual "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance" (VITA) program that provides free tax return help so low-income parents, students and seniors can take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Last year, this program returned $353,116 to 432 Yavapai County residents who otherwise would have lost this income.

We look forward to a 2012 of even greater growth and capacity to help our neediest neighbors become healthy, productive and self-sustaining. For more information, about United Way of Yavapai County and Community Impact go to www.unitedwayyavapai.org.

J.J. McCormack, Board President

Casey Rooney, Board Secretary & Treasurer

Peggy Zimmerman, Director

Bret Minnehan, Director

Julie Pindzola, Director

Libby Reiman, Director

Melanie G. Jacobson, Acting Executive Director

J.J. McCormack is a longtime Prescott resident and Local Sales Manager for CableOne. Casey Rooney is the President/CEO of the Cottonwood Economic Development Council. Peggy Zimmerman has been involved with local nonprofits for more than 20 years. Bret Minnehan is Operations Manager for APS. Julie Pindzola is a broker with Edward Jones. Libby Reiman is the assistant coordinator for the Arizona Wildfire Academy and co-owner of All Star Sports Center in Prescott. Melanie Jacobson grew up in Prescott and returned to her hometown in 2003. She has been affiliated with United Way of Yavapai County since 2006.