United Way at $2 million of $3.4 million goal

CHAMPAIGN — The United Way of Champaign County is more than halfway to its $3.4 million fund-raising goal, the agency said Thursday.

The current campaign has raised just over $2 million since it was launched in late August, and that's exciting, says United Way President and CEO Sue Grey.

"To be at $2 million at this point in the campaign is pretty early for us," she said.

Dependent on the rest of the money coming in are dozens of not-for-profit agencies that provide 67 programs. Requests for funding from those non-profits this year have totaled $4 million, more than double the total financial request received in the United Way's last funding cycle two years ago and the largest the United Way has ever received, according to Grey.

"We expected it, in particular, because of the state and federal funding cuts of late," she said. "Even with this goal, it would be difficult to fully fund every request we get."

Local donations from past fund-raising campaigns will help provide emergency shelter for homeless families in the cold winter months and beyond next year, Grey says.

The United Way is funding a temporary family emergency shelter program starting in January with $75,000 — money raised through more than one year of fund-raising campaigns that exceeded their goals, she said.

The shelter program for next year, like a pilot program that ran from February through September this year, will be offered in the form of temporary stays in local hotels and motels with case management services to help families make the move to more permanent housing.

Grey said more details will be available soon, after an agency is selected to provide the case management services.

The funding should cover shelter for January through September of next year, with plans under way for a more permanent family shelter, Grey said.

In the event there are families in need of shelter before the transitional program starts in January, Grey said, the United Way will work with local agencies to make it available.

"We don't want anybody to stay on the streets," she said.

The United Way is also giving $5,877 to Austin's Place emergency shelter for women at First Methodist Church, Champaign, to help pay for three months of shelter costs, Grey said.

The United Way will be taking donations for the current campaign through June 30. Grey said anyone wishing to make a tax-deductible contribution in time for this tax year still has through the end of the month to do so.

Contributions to United Way can be made online at http://www.uwayhelps.org or mailed to the office at 404 W. Church St., Champaign, Ill. 61820.

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