In an uncertain economy, people like Sharon Miller of Westminster need the United Way of Central Maryland, which helps Miller afford day care for her daughter.
And in spite of the uncertain economy, this year's United Way fund drive shows a 12 percent increase in employee donations at companies that have finished their campaigns, said United Way spokesman Mel Tansill.
But the money is coming in slowly, so United Way is extending its deadline to late January for the first time, instead of closing the fund drive in mid-November as usual, said Tansill, of United Way's Baltimore headquarters.
United Way officials say they hope a little extra time will nudge potential donors to make a pledge.
"People are a little apprehensive, perhaps waiting to see what happens in their companies before they make a pledge," Tansill said of Central Marylanders' worries over potential layoffs and wage freezes. Company managers aren't sure how much they can spare in a corporate donation, he said.
"In this economy, the fact that employee giving increased 12 percent is a very encouraging sign," Tansill said. "If it takes two months, fine.
We're willing to wait and still be focused on that goal." He said the extension won't delay disbursing the money to agencies in the spring.
With only one-third of the companies in Central Maryland having concluded their campaigns, the $25 million raised so far is about 72 percent of the $34.6 million goal for this year's drive. The amount raised from Carroll-based companies so far is $554,879, but that does not include money from Carroll residents who work outside the county or those who work in the county for corporations based elsewhere, Tansill said.
Last year, the amount raised in Carroll was $795,518, again not counting Carroll pledges through companies headquartered outside the county. Contributions in Carroll went up 16 percent last year and 28 percent in 1988, United Way figures show.
United Way of Central Maryland is an umbrella organization that raises money for more than 100 charities in Carroll, Harford, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City. Among the population of 2.3 million, one in three families directly uses the United Way agencies for things such as day care, Meals on Wheels and Scouting, Tansill said.
Carroll Child Care Centers operates in St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Westminster Church of the Brethren and Grace United Church of Christ in Taneytown. The $53,593 the non-profit agency got from United Way in 1990 makes up about 14 percent of the $382,000 budget, said Carol Poole, administrative assistant.
The money allows the centers to charge based on a family's ability to pay, Poole said. The centers have 88 children enrolled, and 86 percent of all families get some of their care subsidized by the United Way, Poole said.
"Many people who are working cannot pay the going rate for day care, which is about $70 to $80 a week," Poole said.
Sharon Miller, 25, pays about $50 a week, and the United Way pays the remaining $30 to enroll daughter Samantha, 3, at Carroll Child Care Centers.
Miller, who is between jobs, moved here a few months ago from Georgia to be nearer her family in Carroll, because she was having trouble making ends meet alone, she said. She rents an apartment from her parents.
"I've been in (job) interviews all day," she said, while Samantha has been in day care. "If that wasn't available to me, I don't know what I'd be doing. I would probably have to put her in an unlicensed home center."
Other Carroll agencies that get United Way money include the YMCA, Salvation Army, Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland and Scouts.
During 1990, Carroll County got at least $650,000 of the total $31 million raised in the fall of 1989 for all of Central Maryland, Tansill said. Another several thousand dollars distributed to larger agencies such as the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross is not broken down for Carroll, although those agencies serve this county, Tansill said.
He said he could not project what Carroll would get this year.
The campaign consists of in-house drives at 3,500 companies, school districts and other groups of employees in Central Maryland. Most contributions are through payroll deductions, often with corporate matching.
Tansill said some Carroll companies showing noteworthy increases over last year are Carroll County Public Library, with employee giving up 43 percent this fall; Carroll County Bank and Trust, up 26 percent; Western Maryland College, up 18 percent; and Westminster city employees.