Support That Changes Lives

by Michael Stephan, Heart of Illinois United Way

For the first time, the annual Heart of Illinois United Way campaign reached, and then surpassed, the $10-million mark, raising about $10.546 million for vital health and social service programs throughout central Illinois.

Each year, more than 300 local companies and organizations participate in the campaign. In 2012, more than 38 percent of these organizations increased their contributions to the United Way by five percent or more, representing $1.4 million in new dollars. In addition, the Caterpillar Foundation offered to reinstate its dollar-for-dollar match of its employees' and retirees' contributions, if those contributions outside of Caterpillar increased by at least five percent. The community exceeded this goal with an eight-percent increase.

By supporting the United Way, individuals and organizations know they are making a positive impact in our community. Last year, 118 of the top 150 United Ways across the nation reported an average increase in campaign revenue of 1.6 percent. The Heart of Illinois United Way's campaign revenue increased 17 percent from 2012, demonstrating the incredible generosity and compassion of people in central Illinois.

With these results, the Heart of Illinois United Way is ready to move forward strategically. Since 1921, our United Way has brought together people from business, labor, government and health and social services to address the critical needs of people in our hometowns. As we create this vision for our community, the United Way will continue to be a lead collaborator in addressing the education, income and health concerns of the region. A quality education leads to employment, a stable job provides income to support a family through retirement, and good health affects everyone’s quality of life.

With the campaign’s growth, the Heart of Illinois United Way will invest in new collaborative programs that address the needs identified in our community assessment. This spring, in partnership with Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois, our United Way will launch 2-1-1, an easy-to-remember phone number that connects callers to critical health and social services available in the community. It’s estimated that the program will provide about $1.1 billion nationally in net value over the next 10 years. Our 2-1-1 program will provide callers with local information on food pantries, shelters, rent and utility assistance, medical information lines, crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling, drug and alcohol intervention, unemployment benefits, financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance, home-delivered meals, childcare, afterschool programs, tutoring and much more.

With 47 partner agencies, the Heart of Illinois United Way supports critical health and social service needs throughout Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties. The people of central Illinois are among the most generous in the nation, and their support is changing lives. iBi

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