United Way is at 80% of goal

Joyce F. Nowell Gannett reporter

United Way of Franklin County volunteers and board members got a pep talk Wednesday, Jan. 22, during the organization’s annual meeting as the campaign heads for the home stretch.

With images of the organization’s ALICE project hanging on the walls at 104 B Street in Greencastle, poet-activist Carla Christopher of York brought a message of connection and empowerment.

“Knowing the story helps us understand what is important and why for our folks,” she said.

ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) is meant to raise awareness of the challenges faced by working families and mobilize organizations and individuals who want to support strategies and policies that move ALICE along their journey to financial stability.

“We know that by doing this work and knowing the stories, by knowing the needs and knowing the history of diverse cultures, we can find ways to have impact,” Christopher said.

“Your collective action makes a difference ... the collective impact of each person doing a different job in a different area, working in partnership with others, finding ways that different talents and locations can connect to create a transformative change, both for families, for an entire culture and country.”

Kim Crider, chairwoman for United Way’s 2019-20 campaign, said 30% of the county’s population struggles with the cost of living, and it touches every community.

Traveling with an ALICE photography exhibit during the campaign is helping rewrite the story.

“We found the images help open doors to real conversations of how employers, nonprofits and other agencies can work to empower ALICE,” Crider said.

The campaign has reached 80% of its $850,000 fundraising goal, Crider said.

“We continue to strive for reaching goals because the need in this community is great,” she said. “We’re optimistic that good news will continue to come as a few more companies need to report, and we have one more event ahead of us.”

A celebrity bartender event will be Friday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Orchards restaurant at 1580 Orchard Drive in Chambersburg.

Bonnie Zehler, president of the United Way board, said the organization is constantly busy, especially focusing on staying connected with those who seek assistance and employment help, or want to volunteer.

“We want to keep in mind the importance of all those folks and how their connections in our community with us make a big difference,” she said.

Christopher left the audience with a call to action to make an impact.

“If we work together, our collective action, our collective partnership and our individual gifts and talents make a difference,” she said.