Letter: Changing World for United Way

Thursday, November 14, 2013

To the Editor:

Jim Kenyon’s column about the Bugbee Senior Center having lost the support it had been receiving from Granite United Way (“United No More,” Oct. 30) offers a one-sided view.

United Way’s model of leveraging the continuity of employment and comparatively generous employee benefits that were a fact of life for many in the middle class during the last half of the 20th century no longer applies today. Contributions from paycheck deductions are a fraction of what they used to be. Upper Valley United Way was consolidated into Granite United Way, Upper Valley Region, to ensure its long-term viability.

One result is that nonprofits receiving support from United Way have had to adapt by being more thorough in documenting their case for support. United Way grants have always required a lot of effort; in recent years they’ve required even more. Something that hasn’t changed is that the decisions about which programs receive funding are made by Upper Valley community members who volunteer their time to assess applications for support and the operations of the programs behind those applications. Read: busy people working hard on their own time to help those less fortunate than themselves.

Rather than believing that the funding decisions made by our neighbors are uninformed or somehow misguided as Kenyon’s column seems to suggest, I’d encourage anyone interested to look deeper. Like most nonprofits, United Way relies on local volunteers to help make difficult choices about allocating resources to those among us who are in need. The volunteers I’ve encountered working with Granite United Way, Upper Valley Region, are among the cream of the crop.

Chris Weinmann