Rotary hears history of United Way

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

An interesting history and purposes of the United Way was presented at the Bainbridge Rotary meeting Tuesday.

Shahene Neshat, site manager of BSAF and president of the board of directors for United Way of Bainbridge-Decatur County, spoke briefly on how the United Way was organized in 1887.

A group of five community leaders in Denver, Colorado, came together to seek ways to assist many of the impoverished families who had left everything behind to become part of the Pikes Peak Gold rush. The five original organizers were, a woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi.

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Amazingly, they managed to collect $21,700 from a population of 100,000. Rotarians were advised that at today’s finances that amount would be equal to one half million dollars.

He then compared that figure with the new goal of $71,500 set by United Way of Decatur County for the year that kicks off October 1.

The concept of that small group in Colorado has now spread to 41 countries with 1800 United Way agencies world-wide.

The goal is stated as advancing the common good by bringing stakeholders of the community together. Very little of the money raised, (about 3 percent) goes to overhead expenses and all other money stays in the community where it is distributed through the agencies committed to promoting education, income and  health.

Several persons representing the local agencies that benefit from our United Way then spoke briefly about what they do and how much their efforts are assisted by United Way funding.

The agencies currently receiving funding from the United Way of Decatur County are: Decatur County YMCA, CASA, Family Connection, Halcyon Home for Battered Women, Layman Brotherhood Second Chance Outreach Center, Samaritan Counseling Center of Southwest Georgia, SOWEGA Community Action Group, Salvation Army and SOWEGA Council on Aging.

Neshat then spoke on how easily persons can donate to the United Way through payroll deduction at their place of employment, where a dollar or two per pay period can make such a difference.

He urged all to carry the message to their employers who can make pledge applications to the local agency.

“You don’t understand how much help is given until you are the one whose needs are being met.” he concluded.