Opinion

Winding down and coming up short

The United Way of Kitsap County Annual Workplace Campaign is winding down — in more ways than one.

Throughout this year’s United Way campaign, donations and pledged donations have been ahead of last year’s campaign. Over the past couple of weeks, however, a trend toward declining pledges and actual contributions has surfaced. Now we are $34,000 behind last year’s total at the same time frame. To some, $34,000 would not seem like a lot; but, add to that $34,000 the growing uncollectible rate (donation pledges made by individuals who ultimately do not contribute), which averages 8.5 percent annually. That uncollectible rate has escalated already this year to about 12.5 percent. United Ways across the state report falling behind last year’s total pledges and contributions and they expect their uncollectible rates to double that 8.5 percent average.

While the Annual Campaign dwindles, and the uncollectible rate climbs, we see the human need in our community growing exponentially. Recently, United Way of Kitsap County surveyed nonprofit health and human service agencies in the county. We found these service providers are experiencing as much as 30 percent increases in requests for services and assistance. Similarly, those same agencies have experienced funding cuts of up to 30 percent from both public and private sources. This spells trouble for many of our neighbors and for many of our nonprofit health and human service agencies that are lifelines for many individuals and families in our community.

It seems no matter where you turn these days, the news is bad. The state budget is in shambles, leaving our most vulnerable citizens at risk; the federal government is struggling to stop the economic hemorrhaging; pensions are diminishing; unemployment lines are growing longer each day; homes are being foreclosed on at an unprecedented rate; the number of homeless individuals and families locally continues to grow; and, the stock market continues to plunge to unexpected lows. We wonder if the recession is now a depression.

Those who have some measure of economic security are holding on tight to what they have — and, can you blame them? These are scary, unsettling times. But, right now our less fortunate neighbors need us more than ever before.

United Way is the single largest philanthropic organization in the county, distributing in excess of a million dollars annually to agencies that depend on the unrestricted dollars we grant each year to help balance their shrinking budgets and provide for basic human needs. We are issuing this appeal to you to Live United by supporting the United Way Annual Campaign. If you have already pledged a contribution through your Workplace Campaign, please consider sending an additional donation that is affordable and meaningful to you. If you have not had the opportunity to contribute through a Workplace Campaign, please help us now. In order for Kitsap to be a healthy community, we must keep our health and human services network healthy. There is no better time than now to Live United and make a tax-deductible donation.

Your check can be sent to United Way of Kitsap County, 647 Fourth St., Bremerton, WA 98337 or call (360) 377-8505 to arrange to contribute via credit card.

BEVERLY KINCAID, CHAIR

JACK HAMILTON

MIKE STEVENS

LINDA TESTA

COLIN MORRISON

DAVID FOOTE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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