The News-Herald: United Way of Lake County announces funds distribution

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Following its monthly board meeting on June 18, the United Way of Lake County announced how it would distribute funds this year.

The UWLC’s Evaluation and Investment team, made up of 55 volunteers, researched local programs, reviewed applications and conducted interviews before deciding how to allocate the $2.004 million. Adding in money donated to specific agencies and to other United Way branches, UWLC directed $2,508,848 into the community.

The $2.004 million will be given for fiscal year 2016 to dozens of programs in five general categories. Basic needs received $581,251, children and families received $517,744, health counseling received $387,061, health services received $358,695 and seniors received $159,249.

The programs of the Lake County Free Medical Clinic will receive the most money at $186,001. The bulk of that money — $136,394 — went to the clinic’s medical care program. Dental care also saw an increase in funding from $18,600 in fiscal year 2015 to $42,480 this year.

The Salvation Army Citadel, Lake County Y, Lake-Geauga Recovery Center and Lifeline also each received more than $145,000 for their programs.

Don Joss, community impact director for the United Way, said the free clinic has always received the most funding.

“The free clinic has a lot of volunteer doctors, volunteer dentists,” Joss said. “They’re really going after the needy — people that don’t have insurance, can’t afford the insurance, which is growing.”

The Free Medical Clinic served more than 14,000 people in 2014.

No new programs were funded this year, after two new programs received money last year.

Due to decreased overall funding, all five needs groups distributed 2.7 percent less total money than last year.

Seniors saw the biggest cut, at 11.1 percent, but much of that decrease came from dissolution of the Faith in Action program from Senior Independence. Last year, that program received $15,000 from UWLC.

The volunteer panelists meet weekly from February to June and review every program that the UWLC funds. Programs also have to submit outcome reports to show if they are reaching their goals and reaching as many people in the community as possible, Joss said.

“The panel leaders really take ownership of those programs that they evaluate,” he said.

Jean Sency, vice president and resource development director of the United Way of Lake County, said UWLC also strives to fill in funding gaps left by decreases in state and federal government funding.

“Locally, that impacts so many of our residents and then they look toward the local funders,” Sency said.

She added that the Feed Lake County food drive, which helps 50 local food pantries, that UWLC operates is not a part of the Evaluation and Investment team.

“Every one of them reported an increase in need,” Sency said. “Madison Food Center is one that, each month they report that they’re seeing a thousand new.”