Blackened eyes and bruises are nasty evidence of things gone wrong. But as more victims are unwilling to silently tolerate domestic violence, providers are overwhelmed with pleas for help. The House of Ruth, for example, served 400 women and children in its initial year in 1977. Last year, 8,000 individuals benefited from an array of programs that range from a shelter for 24 women and children to counseling and legal assistance for battered women as well as their mates.
The House of Ruth is just one of more than 100 health and human service agencies supported by the United Way of Central Maryland, which kicks off its 1991 fund-raising campaign today. This year's theme -- "Together, we are making a difference" -- is particularly apt because a change initiated a year ago allows donors to direct their dollars to a specific area of need. This opportunity is available again this year, meaning that contributors can earmark dollars for a cause or charity that best addresses their social concern or geographic area.
As 75 percent of contributions come from employees in the workplace, 20 percent from corporate gifts and 5 percent from individuals and foundations, the annual United Way campaign often is accompanied by much hoopla to drum up interest. Last year, the chief executive officer of Francis Scott Key Medical Center volunteered for the "dunking booth," a gimmick that helped to prompt a 12 percent increase in employee giving. At the law firm of Weinberg and Green, a more serious approach was used. Donations soared after employees toured Christopher Place, a homeless shelter for men, and Keswick, an agency providing care for the chronically ill.