By Kim Walter
The United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley will give almost $400,000 in impact grants to 33 local agencies.
While the donated amount increased from recent years, it is still less than half of what local organizations requested.
Joe Shtulman, president, said the review process always ends in tough decisions.
"It's great that we have a volunteer committee to go through all the applications and requests, because they get to know the community and available services around them," he said. "But it's hard when agencies request close to $800,000, and there just isn't that much to go around."
In January, agencies submitted their letters of intent followed by application material. In April, the citizen review committee, made up of 50 volunteers, then started to go through all the requests. They made on-site visits and heard presentations from each of the organizations.
"It's a lot of people on one committee, but that's the beauty of it," Shtulman said. "It's good to have so many perspectives and representation of different community components."
The $393,732 available for impact grants came from donors who chose a category -- education, income or health -- to which they wanted their money to go.
Shtulman said all the categories are important, but judging by donor designation, demand for health and human care services have continued to grow in the area.
The largest grants for education services will be used for academic enrichment and dropout prevention through the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, home visit parent education for local at-risk families through Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley, and for pre-school music and exercise programs through the Fremont Street Nursery.
For the first time, Response in Shenandoah County received an impact grant for $7,300 to assist with employment assistance and support services for victims of domestic violence.
Large health related grants include $25,000 for substance abuse recovery through the Lord Fairfax House, $15,000 for cardiovascular and diabetes medical care for low income individuals through the Free Medical Clinic of Northern Shenandoah Valley and $15,333 for early intervention counseling for HIV/AIDS victims through Aids Response Efforts.
An additional $329,111 in United Way and Combined Federal Campaign donor specified funds will go to various agencies both local and outside the area. Agency designations are distributed separate from the grant program.
Although not all requests could be met, Shtulman said he considers the year a success.
"The reason we raised more money this year than last is because we had an outstanding campaign," he said. "I encourage anyone from the surrounding area to consider being a part of the volunteer review process ... it gives community members a deep appreciation for the United Way, and also all the deserving agencies around us."
To learn more about how you can be a part of the United Way, go to www.unitedwaynsv.org.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org