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Local United Way to redirect its focus

June 21, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- For 50 years, United Way of Washington County has raised money for agencies that serve people in need.

Now, the fundraising group not only has to do that job better but do it differently, said Leah Gayman, United Way's executive director.

"It's all about focus," Gayman said as the organization prepares for its annual dinner June 25 at Fountain Head Country Club.

There, the transformation to a new organizational model called Community Impact will be introduced.

Gayman said more attention will be paid in the future toward directing the mission of the United Way of Washington County where it is most needed.

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"First, we must discover our most important issues, and then we must fund them," Gayman said.

She predicted health care, education and income issues will be high on the list for Washington County.

Gayman said eliminating a need will merit a lot of attention from the United Way campaigns of the future. But more important is the big picture.

"We can't just eliminate hunger, but the cause of hunger," Gayman said. "It's important that we tackle the right ogre."

Big changes have taken place in Washington County in the past 50 years. No longer a community heavily vested in a couple of major industries, there are a lot of smaller companies, which means it takes more time and more volunteers to visit them to promote the United Way's mission.

"This is an incredibly giving community, but we need to target more people," Gayman said.

She said she believes there are people willing to volunteer -- the trick is to find them and make them realize that they have value to the campaign beyond just giving money.

The keynote speaker at the annual dinner will be Alexander Sanchez, senior vice president of community impact at United Way of America. His work includes developing the knowledge, products and services to accelerate the ability of local United Ways to achieve community level results.

This event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., also will feature a recap of 2008 and introduce the campaign co-chairs for 2009.

Tickets cost $50 per person.

For more information, contact Gayman at 301-739-8200, ext. 11, or Addie Staebler at 301-739-8200, ext. 12.

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