United Fund lends helping hand to local organizations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2004

Ask any organization attempting to get state funds and the answer will be the same. When it comes to soliciting funds from the state of Alabama it is a tough sell.

There is only so much money to go around and all causes are good causes in their own way. Because of this it is a must to have the backing of the community. When funding does come through it is usually limited so it never hurts to have a local organization willing to pitch in.

The Underprivileged Children's Emergency Fund and Safe Harbor are two such organizations in Greenville that often find themselves in need of a little extra help. Fortunately, for both, the United Fund has always been willing to help out.

Underprivileged Children's Emergency Fund Director Frieda Stevens said the United Fund has been a huge boost.

"They have been helping us for years," said Stevens. "Probably since their inception here. They are always willing to give us a hand."

Chief Financial Officer Virginia Perdue said the funds give them the money to cover items government money does not.

"We can use it for transportation for emergency's and mainly for an expense that is not covered anywhere else," said Perdue. "We had a client once who left us a message about a situation and then came in with literally nothing. We bought baby diapers and things like that. Where there is a need and we can't pay it anywhere else we can use these finds to help families to stay together."

There are very strict regulations on the way state funds can be used. Because of this the funds generated by the United Fund are even more beneficial.

"We can use these funds when no other funds would be appropriate to use," said Perdue. "Some of the funds we have like state funds are very strict. There are a lot of guidelines on how they can be used. This helps us help some people we may not be able to help otherwise."

With the extra funding from the United Fund the Underprivileged Children's Emergency Fund has been able to help 75 families.

Safe Harbor is another group that benefits heavily from the United Fund. Executive Director Kathy Smythe said with the state tightening its belt on funding she appreciates help wherever it comes from.

"With the state of Alabama's funding crisis over the last two years it has been critical that we receive funds from local sources," said Smythe. "The United Fund has been one of the groups that has done a lot for us."

Safe Harbor is a service to help children who have been through a traumatic situation whether it was abuse, or witnessing a crime. By coming to Safe Harbor a series of therapies are administered, such as play therapy, to help the children work through whatever their situation may be. Safe Harbor gives them a chance to work through these incidents and move on to a productive life.

Smythe said Safe Harbor is just one of many groups that have had a positive experience while working with the United Fund.

"We are just one of the many agencies who benefit from the United Fund," said Smythe. "Not only have we received money from the United Fund we also had one of their members join our board."

Smythe said they also do their part to return the favor.

"We partner together in that as part of our request for funding we try to beat the bushes to raise money for the United Fund as well," said Smythe. "We all try to work together."

Perdue agreed it was important to work together and said the funds are extremely helpful because they help these organizations do more than would normally be possible.

"It is so nice to have something like this because the funds we receive from the state are so restricted," said Perdue. "We just wish we could do more."