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Meeting local needs: United Way launches campaign

United Way volunteers, from left, President Lorrie Nantt, Honorary Campaign Chairwoman Ninetta Wandler and Campaign Chairwoman Sue Roller set the goal on Wednesday at the downtown railroad depot.

Newcomers to Dickinson look to the House of Manna for clothing and household supplies. Senior citizens rely on Elder Care for transportation and meals. The Safety City educational program will continue, despite loss of its grant funding.

All of these services have turned to United Way of Dickinson for a helping hand.

United Way began Sept. 16 with the sale of brats, and the major push continues through the end of October, said Jill Gregoire, United Way executive director.

"Once a year, we do a fundraising drive on behalf of partner agencies," she said. "It's a very effective and efficient way to do fundraising. We ask for a donation once a year instead of every four or six months."

The goal is set according to the agencies' needs. It's the same as last year -- $282,000. Last year, United Way raised $256,000, said Gregoire.

"It's not about meeting the goal, it's about meeting the need," she said. "Our agencies need our help to continue services in Dickinson. I'm always hopeful that we'll reach the goal -- we do the best we can. If our agencies are not funded at 100 percent of request, sometimes difficult choices have to be made."

United Way asks the agencies to provide realistic numbers through applications, which are reviewed by a board of directors.

"They're not asking for oodles of money, but to keep their services going," she said.

This year's theme is Building Blocks for a Good Life. The target issues are education, income and health.

r Education: Youth who may engage in risky behaviors, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, good parenting skills and positive role models for youth.

r Income: Individuals without enough money to meet basic needs and individuals who can't afford to increase their job skills.

r Health: Family or elder abuse, substance abuse, obesity, mental health, reducing the number of uninsured or under-insured families and nutritious meals.

"We've worked with other United Ways across the state who use this model and have been very successful with it," said Gregoire.

Overhead expenses for United Way of Dickinson is 19 percent -- nationally it is recommended to be below 40 percent, said Gregoire.

Doing further research, she said United Way of Dickinson raised over $3.75 million during its first 48 campaigns.

Upcoming events include a United Way breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 16 at Lady J's Club and Catering. Classic Lanes also is hosting a bowling tournament Jan. 14.

Gregoire credits the volunteers -- from those who review the applications and serve banana splits, to the volunteers who distribute the packets to businesses in the greater Dickinson area.

Campaign Chairwoman Sue Roller believes in United Way because of the good it does for people with needs.

"I think it makes Dickinson a more welcoming place for everyone," she said.

"I've worked with non-profits before, but I can reach so many people on the United Way Board than with the other boards," said United Way President Lorrie Nantt.

Honorary Chairwoman Ninetta Wandler added, "You can help so many people with one group. There isn't one group that can help so many people."

The volunteers started their service to United Way by delivering packets.

"I love visiting with the people -- they believe in United Way," said Nantt.

When reviewing applications for funding, the board wants agencies who fill a need, whether it's for the homeless, meals or services of the domestic violence shelter, said Roller.

"We can always use more volunteers to get the packets out or just help with serving breakfast or doing some bowling," added Nantt.

The newest agency is Safety City, a safety education program for young children --teaching everything from how to dial 911 and poison awareness to wearing bike helmets and observing traffic signs.

"I get a lot of complaints from parents because their children become backseat drivers," said Safe Communities Coordinator Becky Byzewski. "The kids say, 'Mom, you're not wearing your seatbelt.' It's all good."

Safety City has been funded through a registration fee, support by the Kiwanis Club and a Department of Transportation Grant. However, the grant ended across the state.

"We lost all the salaries that help make the program work," she said.

With extra support from United Way and Kiwanis, she expects the two-week program will continue next summer.

The House of Manna relies on United Way to help pay for its utility bills and rent.

"We help people who are in need -- people who are moving to town in need of house wear, furniture and clothes," said House of Manna Manager Nan Rapp. "They come here with basically nothing. Yesterday, I helped a gal from Minot who was flooded out. She lost everything."

House of Manna has averaged from 110 to 130 people who go through the doors when open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

"The first hour is really crazy," she said. "On Monday, we had couples from California and Idaho -- there's no jobs out there."

She relies on the public to donate the furniture, household goods and clothing.

"We're going through bedding and blankets this time of year -- we could use winter coats now," she said.

House of Manna can only use good, useable items. The volunteers must sort through the piles of items before the doors can open.

"We're always looking for volunteers, especially men," she added.

This year's United Way agencies are:

Best Friends Mentoring Program.

Boy Scouts of America, Northern Lights Council.

Caring Program of North Dakota.

Community Action -- Prairie Rose Center.

Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center.

Elder Care.

Girl Scouts.

Guardianship Program.

Harvest Home -- St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center.

High Five Camp.

House of Manna.

Dickinson Adult Learning Center.

Pregnancy and Parenting Services.

Safety City.

Senior Companion Program.

Southwestern District Health Unit -- Health Maintenance Program.

Stark County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Sunrise Youth Bureau.

West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center.

For more information regarding United Way of Dickinson, call 701-483-1233 or visit the website: