VOLUME 33, NUMBER 4 THURSDAY, September 20, 2001
ReporterElectronic Highways

The way America cares—community by community

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In 1887, religious leaders founded the Charity Organizations Society, the first "United Way" organization that planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fund-raising campaign for 22 agencies. The first United Way campaign in Denver raised $21,700. In the 2000-01 campaign, more than 1,853 United Ways across the country raised $3.91 billion to help support health and human service agencies.

The United Way of America http://national.unitedway.org/ is the national service and training center that supports member United Ways by helping them add value to the community and conduct cost-effective, donor-oriented fund-raising to increase financial resources. United Ways across the country bring diverse people and resources together to address the most urgent issues facing their communities.

The UWA Web site contains the "United Way Community Impact Agenda," which shows how the United Way is investing our dollars in five major areas: helping children and youth succeed, strengthening and supporting families, promoting self-sufficiency, building vital and safe neighborhoods, and supporting vulnerable and aging populations. United Ways' strategies include identifying and building on community strengths and assets, funding programs and initiatives, advocating for public-policy changes and collaborating with others in support of these and related issues every day.

The United Way State of Caring Index www.unitedway.org/stateofcaring/ is the latest in a long line of useful tools and resources created by the UWA for helping local United Ways and others improve their communities. Updated annually, it analyzes social and economic indicators at the state and national levels in the areas of economic and financial well-being, education, health, voluntarism/charity/civic engagement, safety, natural environment and other factors. You can find out how New York compares with other states and the nation by comparing how social and economic well-being has increased or decreased over time and determining areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. The percentage of children and adults who are medically uninsured, the current unemployment rate and public school expenditures per pupil are just three of the 32 social and economic indicators you can choose.

Locally, there is the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County www.uwbec.org/, a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization that invests in more than 220 community-wide programs and initiatives ranging from infants to the elderly. Serving Western New York since 1917, its mission is to work in partnership with others to build a stronger community by developing resources that effectively meet human-service needs through prevention and intervention programs. Their Web site includes a link to the "Central Referral Service," which has given individuals free and confidential referrals to more than 3,000 human service organizations and more than 12,000 services in Western New York. Business First and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County also have created an annual online "Corporate Caring Calendar" that lists such fundraising events in Western New York as Halloween Spooktacular and the Harvest Happening Auction and Wine Tasting.

SEFA www.sefa.state.ny.us/ is the State Employees Federation Appeal, initiated in 1976. It is the annual campaign supported by labor and management in which employees can contribute to charitable, nonprofit organizations that render services to human health, welfare and recreational programs. Hundreds of SEFA-supported organizations and programs serve a diverse population throughout our region.

For information about the UB SEFA campaign, check out its Web site at http://wings.buffalo.edu/faculty/sefa/2001/ or contact this year's chair, Mary Gresham, vice president for public services and urban affairs and dean of the Graduate School of Education, at gresham@acsu.buffalo.edu. Your contribution will help fund a multitude of needed services and useful programs.

—Sue Neumeister and Lori Widzinski, University Libraries

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