By Doug Hallett
United Way, which launched its annual campaign Wednesday, is concerned about federal and provincial funding cuts to the agencies it helps, says United Way executive director Ken Dardano.
His comments came as United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin launched its 2012 campaign with a goal of raising $3.2 million.
While the United Way is seeing growing “basic needs,” including more use of food banks and food pantries, a bigger concern is with widespread federal and provincial funding cuts affecting the public and not-for-profits sectors, Dardano said in an interview.
“It affects us in our funding distribution,” he said. “It impacts our maintaining of services and building on them and moving forward.”
Last year, the United Way was able to help a local seniors’ association by devoting more resources to seniors when the association’s government funding was cut, Dardano said.
This year, he said, government cuts are being felt “almost across the board,” putting pressure on agencies’ ability to do their work in the community.
He said he’s heard from some agencies that are facing big cuts and aren’t sure how they’ll cope.
“There is a strain throughout the system right now. It seems fairly widespread and growing,” he said.
As a result, donors are being asked to dig deeper this year and new donors are being asked to step up to support the United Way, Dardano said.
Jim Jarrell, this year’s volunteer campaign chair for United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin, said he’s confident this year’s goal will be reached.“Last year, donors in the community came together and raised more than $3 million for United Way,” said Jarrell, the president and chief operating officer at Linamar Corp.
“I know we can go even further this year,” Jarrell said in a news release Wednesday. “Every dollar donated makes a difference, helping people through the 80-plus local programs United Way funds.”
The United Way kickoff took place at Market Square in front of city hall and included comments by Mayor Karen Farbridge and Debbie Bentley-Lauzon, executive director of Wyndham House, as well as by Jarrell.
“Our funding from United Way keeps a door open and options available for homeless youth in our community,” said Bentley-Lauzon.
Wyndham House helps more than 500 vulnerable youths in Guelph and Wellington each year, the release said. This includes providing long-term residences for homeless youths wishing to complete their high school education.
The campaign runs until the end of November. Donations are accepted at workplaces across the city and through the United Way office at 519-821-0571 or www.unitedwayguelph.com.