UF contributions help aid local Red Cross

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An American Red Cross volunteer speaks to Ron and Lorraine Weinmann about an ERV at an After Hours.|File Photo

As with most non-profit organizations, the West Escambia American Red Cross is keeping close count of its funds.

Director Joan Hackman said without the support of community-wide fundraising efforts such as the Atmore United Fund, it would be even tougher to make ends meet.

“Non-profits cannot make it on their own,” she said. “It takes community support and community dollars. All funds raised by United Fund and by the West Escambia American Red Cross are used for needs in this community only.”

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The local Red Cross is required to fund its yearly local disaster response budget. This year’s fundraising goal is $10,000.

“Last year, there were 22 single-family fires,” Hackman said. “They average $1,000 a fire in cost. Some may cost $2,000 and others may cost $500. No matter how you break that down, we still have to cover it.”

In total, the West Escambia ARC spent approximately $22,000 in local disaster relief funding for fires alone last year, not to mention other disasters such as flooding.

“Two years ago, United Fund provided about half of our total projected disaster dollars,” Hackman said. “Contributions have gone from $12,000 down to $7,300 for the coming year.”

As with most community fundraising projects across the country, the Atmore United Fund is taking a hit with donations, which prompted the board to lower its goal from $75,000 in years past to $50,000 this year to help better fulfill projected donations.

Despite lower funding, Hackman said the organization would continue to be “good stewards” to the community’s needs regardless of race, gender, religion or political opinion.

“I think we do a good job fulfilling our mission and hope that we can continue to do just that without the risk of cutting services in the coming year,” she said.

Just over three months into this fiscal year, the local Red Cross has already responded to eight fires, including an apartment fire on Nov. 7, which left four families homeless.

The Red Cross provides three nights in a hotel, emergency food and clothing and replacement of medical needs if necessary.

“Without support of the United Fund our 2010-11 goal of $10,000 is in jeopardy for local disaster response funding,” Hackman said. “We have to have the support of United Fund. It’s the right thing to do.”

Local Red Cross volunteers include, Sandra Gray, Jackie Etheridge, Jerridine Perryman, Genny Avery, Jean Jordan and Julia Stroud. Board members are Foster Kizer, Audrey Moon, Pam Martin, Wanda Hall, Dr. Judy Surles and the Rev. Michael Wilson

“Our volunteers and board members are committed to making sure that our area of this county is covered as well as any county in any state is covered as it relates to disaster response,” Hackman said. “We’ve got the commitment, we just need the dollars to make our work, work. I don’t think anybody has a better board or staff of volunteers than we have.”

To make a contribution to United Fund, contact any United Fund board member or ask your employer.