Saturday, January 10, 2009

North Country Blues

The United Way of Benton County fell $500,000 short of its fundraising goal in 2006, following another failure of $50,000 in 2005. The proposed solution for the problem was to merge with the United Way of Washington County, which had exceeded its goals, and to include Madison County and McDonald County, Missouri, within the grasp of the United Way of Northwest Arkansas. No sooner had the acquisition and merger been sealed than the new group closed the Washington County office and moved it to Lowell to "establish a new identity."

We learned this week that this new United Way of Northwest Arkansas up in Lowell will not meet its fundraising goal for 2008. Just how much they failed to raise, they won't say until later this month. "In September and October, when the economic downturn started to become more prevalent, we started to see the donations slow down," said Brooke Benoit, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the United Way of Northwest Arkansas. Two years ago, when she was Brooke Benoit, Vice President for United Way of Benton County, she blamed the shortfall on a changing economy, specifically a shift from manufacturing jobs to more retail- and service-based industries, "where payroll deductions aren’t as inviting to employees." The year before that the excuse was Hurricane Katrina.

Times is hard all over, for givers and receivers. Charity begins at home. If you can help, please consider making a contribution directly to the many local groups that serve the needs of the less fortunate in our community. If you still have money left, you can send a check to help with the deficit at the United Way of Lowell.

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