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Our Promise To You

by Carlos Evans

October 7,2008

Mac Everett, Interim President of the United Way of Central Carolinas, and I have lived in Charlotte for more than 47 years, and have seen our city grow from a “large small town” to a great city. All around us, we see evidence of the strong positive growth that Charlotte has experienced in the last couple of decades.

What is less visible are the ever-expanding health and human services needs that come with this growth. Charlotte is a mecca for newcomers from other parts of the country who move here in search of opportunity – yet many find themselves in a new city with no job and no money, and in need of health and human services. Meanwhile, many long-time Charlotte residents have not benefited from the economic growth in Charlotte, and need help from agencies funded by United Way. Other residents find themselves in circumstances – such as family illness, job loss, or fire, flood or other disasters – that necessitate United Way agency assistance. Add to that the current economic environment, including rising fuel and food prices and home foreclosures, and you can understand why thousands of our neighbors need the services of United Way.

Today, people who never imagined they’d need help are standing in line at Crisis Assistance Ministry in the hope of avoiding eviction and keeping their lights on for another night. Today, our food pantries are bare and our shelters for men, women and children are full. Today, there are over 100,000 Charlotte-area residents living in poverty and more than 5,000 homeless people in Charlotte including over 2,000 homeless children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

For 77 years, United Way of Central Carolinas has addressed the health and human services needs in our community. In a year where demand for help is growing daily, we have to do all that we can to help as many as we can.

We acknowledge that recent media coverage of the United Way of Central Carolinas has caused some of you to question your support. We have taken action on several fronts, including assessing the way we operate as an organization and the way the Board operates as an oversight body, and we have more work to do. An independent review panel has been appointed to assess the United Way of Central Carolinas, including a review of the compensation decision-making process. Panel members, who have a distinguished record of service to the Charlotte community, are led by Robert C. Sink, an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson. The panel also will evaluate and propose changes deemed necessary to improve the Board’s governance.

In addition, a search committee is being formed to find the best individual to lead our United Way of Central Carolinas into the future. Meanwhile, we are moving toward greater transparency, including open Board meetings and more communication with United Way agencies. We are also focused on the United Way’s budget with an eye toward reducing costs to minimize the impact of a funding shortage to the agencies.

We know the community’s trust in United Way has been shaken. As we work to regain your confidence, we ask that you remember how important the interconnected system of service delivery is between United Way and its member agencies. Many believe that giving directly to an individual agency is the most effective way to help. However, more often than not, when individuals are in need of assistance, their situation is not one-dimensional in nature and they need help on multiple issues. For example, a homeless family may need services from the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter for emergency housing, Child Care Resources for financial assistance with child care, Community Link for assistance locating permanent housing and Ada Jenkins Center for job training assistance. The United Way ensures that Charlotte has a strong network of funded agencies to meet the multiple needs of our community. We ask that you support the United Way with undesignated gifts so we can continue to provide this holistic approach to helping those in need.

Our promise to you is that we will do our best to leave our community with a United Way that is stronger and better able to meet the needs of our neighbors. We hope you will join us in making this a reality.

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