Column: United Way agencies served more than 15,000 people in need in 2004

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

About 20 years ago, a little 4-year-old needed about $300 worth of dental work. The single mother of two youngsters, fretted about how to pay for the necessary work, a precursor to future orthodontia.

The mother sat at the kitchen table, her financial papers and monthly bills laid out in a mess. Though she worked a full-time day job and waitressed four nights a week to make ends meet, she couldn’t make the numbers work to allow payment of the dental work for her daughter.

The next day, she returned to the dentist’s office where she was told payments weren’t accepted. The dentist, however, suggested he take the request for money to a small, little-known group which helped families in need with medical, vision and dental expenses.

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Nearly a month later, the dentist called to say the group would cover the cost of the dental work. The small group was called Children’s Services and was supported entirely by the United Way. And yes, I was the mother. I vowed that day to repay the money somehow some day.

My circumstances changed and when I was asked about six years later to serve on this board, I agreed, remembering my vow.

I happily worked with the board for nine years, serving as president for two years and working with other community members as the mission of the group evolved.

As my life plays out, I know any number of circumstances could conspire to create a need for assistance from agencies served by the United Way, as it could for just about any family in Freeborn County.

As the agency gears up to kick off its major fund drive this fall, I hope you will consider the following in determining your ability to make a contribution.

The United Way of Freeborn County, through its 18 partner agencies, provides services to more than 15,000 children and families who need it most.

Here’s a look at those agencies and what they do:

The Children’s Center serves more than 250 children &045; 99 of whom were supported through the United Way &045; in a pre-school based curriculum, providing nourishing meals and a full calendar of activities and events.

American Red Cross, a disaster relief organization which assisted 342 county residents, also provides health and safety services and Armed Forces emergency services.

Arc Freeborn County is an advocacy, support and education and referral agency for families of children with disabilities. In 2004, the agency served 6,426 residents.

Catholic Charities offers family, marriage, child and individual counseling, pregnancy counseling, adoption services and a Hispanic ministry. Last year it served 154 individuals in Freeborn County.

Cedar Valley Services offers school-to-work and other transitional training and transportation for 140 residents with disabilities in Freeborn County.

Charities Review Council of Minnesota creates and applies standards to encourage accountability in the nonprofit sector.

Crime Victim’s Crisis Center served 644 residents with crisis intervention and support groups for battered individuals, as well as court assistance.

Domestic Abuse Intervention and Treatment Program provided support group services to 34 individuals, both males and females, who are current or previous participants of the program.

Family Y offers physical health programs for young people and adults, with 517 individuals served in 2004. The agency also provided 134 scholarships for second-graders from Freeborn County.

Freeborn County Chemical Dependency Center provided classes for 865 young people who experienced early consequences from chemical use along with weekly support groups and education and diagnostic services in Freeborn County.

Lutheran Social Service served 55 children and youth with counseling and outreach. The agency also serves children and adults with disabilities.

Parenting Resource Center served 434 residents in 2004. Among the services provided were two 72-hour blocks of emergency care for infants through age 12, a parent-warm line and toll-free telephone parenting information, support and problem-solving in both English and Spanish.

Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota/Circle of Parents offers parental support, guidance and education in the prevention of child abuse. Activities and programs are given in both English and Spanish. The agency served 236 Freeborn County residents in 2004.

Salvation Army operates a food pantry and thrift store and provides emergency and seasonal services. In addition, it runs an after-school program and worship services. It served 6,662 residents in the county last year.

Senior Resources of Freeborn County is an advocacy and peer counseling agency for senior citizens. It also provides transportation, chore services, guardianship and conservatorships. Last year, 6,163 residents were served.

Twin Valley Boy Scouts offered comprehensive youth development programs for 520 youth in the county.

Girl Scouts of River Trails offered comprehensive youth development programs for 166 young women in Freeborn County.

Semcac served 490 resident with homeless shelter and meals through its Meals on Wheels program.

Please include the United Way in your financial plan &045; you never know when life will take its toll and you will need the services provided by the agencies listed above.