BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – The United Way of the Great River Region held their annual agency allocation event virtually on Wednesday.
And despite a year of cancellations, closures, suspensions, and other pandemic-related issues, the UWGRR, still managed to provide much needed funding to agencies in Clark, Lee and Hancock counties serving more than 58,000 people.
At Wednesday annual meeting, UWGRR Executive Director Karen Siefken said 93 partnering companies, agencies and individuals brought a pandemic-filled 2020 to a bright conclusion of the budget year which allowed many requests for funding to be honored.
The United Way also gave out three corporate awards.
Keokuk Community School District had the highest percentage of growth from employee dollars with a 55.7% increase over 2019 contributions.
Two Rivers Bank and Trust in Keokuk again had every single employee make contributions, while Climax Molybdenum, Freeport McMoRan, had the largest corporate foundation match for the year.
The United Way also got a $25,000 grant from the United Ways of Iowa to either use for future uses or provide immediate assistance to local agencies faced with added pandemic expenses.
The United Way distributed those funds in their entirety to each school district in the three-county area based on enrollment.
Seifken said the United Way is working diligently to improve on the 2020 season with a revamped website and growing social media platforms.
“Whatever 2021 brings we will face it together and we will get through it because we are united, we will find a way….a United Way,” Siefken said.
Some changes taking place include the rebranding of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) to AmeriCorps Seniors. The program continues to focus on areas of service in Lee County with regard to health, literacy, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and general community priorities.
Last year RSVP volunteers donated more than 7,200 hours of service in the communities of the three-county service area.
The United Way was still be able to raise just over $175,000 through the annual giving campaign, spaghetti dinner, golf outing and Restaurant Days. The 2020 total was just $35,500 less than 2019. The United Way also received 13 grants for $72,000 up about $2,000 from 2019.
The grants provided funding to support volunteer efforts, agency funding and the annual Back-to-School Backpack event.
Ninety-three participating company’s and organizations had employees give donations in 2020.
Seifken said 2021 will be a year of change and additional adaptation as the pandemic begins to release it’s hold on the region.
“In 2021 we will work diligently to increase our annual giving campaign and grow our fundraising efforts,” she said. “We will be releasing our new and improved website and we will continue to improve and grow our social media presence as well.
“We will continue to focus on long-range planning to insure the future and structure of the organization.”
Incoming 2021 United Way President Julie Schilling thanked the agencies in the coverage area for their perseverance through the pandemic.
“I want to thank all our partner agencies for all the hard work you did during the COVID pandemic with your services,” Schilling said.