After a disappointing pledge campaign last year that fell short of its goal, Mesa United Way officials are pleased that this year’s effort ending June 30 has reached its $2.825 million target. But they’re not celebrating.
“Meeting the goal doesn’t mean we’ve addressed the needs,” said Dan Wollam, president and CEO of MUW, who comes face-to-face with those needs almost daily. “A family came into the office the other day. It was hot. The man had lost his job and they’d been evicted. They have three young children, no car, no food, no place to stay. We tried to find emergency shelter for them but everything was full. All we could do was give each of them a bottle of water and tell them to come back tomorrow and we’ll keep trying to find them a place.
“Adults usually can find a way to cope with that kind of adversity,” Wollam continued, “but we worry the most about the children. Looking into those little faces … It’s hard. We have to work harder to meet those needs.”
Emergency food and shelter have emerged as the most pressing needs this summer, he said. Although the economy has improved slightly, the jobless rate remains stubbornly high and many families are struggling to get by, stretching the resources of food banks, shelters, churches and other non-profit agencies that provide emergency services, he said.
Mesa United Way helps fund 23 carefully screened charities that provide a range of services to people in need. Because MUW’s overhead expenses are covered by grants and corporate sponsors, all of the campaign proceeds will be funneled to the charities, but none will receive all the money that was requested.
“We really appreciate our many loyal and generous donors,” Wollam said. “We’re grateful for the hard work and sacrifice that went into meeting this year’s goal. But it’s also important for the community to understand that we never raise enough to meet all the needs. There’s more work to be done and we need more people to step up and help. This is an ongoing effort.”
The 2012-13 campaign ended June 30, with a new campaign season kicking off July 1.
To donate to Mesa United Way or to find out how you can participate in or organize a workplace campaign, go to www.mesaunitedway.org.