Recession Hits the United Way

November 23, 1992

It is not surprising to learn that this year's annual campaign at the United Way of Central Maryland has gotten off to a slow start. After all, many key employers -- from Westinghouse to local law firms -- are still downsizing. People losing their jobs, or fearful of losing them, are unlikely to find charitable giving among their top priorities.

With less than two months to go to the end of this year's campaign, only slightly over $12 million has been pledged toward the goal of $40 million. If the pledges do not pick up, more than 300 human care services receiving funds from United Way could be in for a nasty surprise at a time when the need for their work is acute and growing every day.

Nearly a million people (one in three families in Central Maryland) benefit from United Way services each year. Those services run the gamut and address illiteracy, homelessness, child day care, domestic violence, child abuse, hunger, care for the disabled and elderly, AIDS, substance abuse and many other problems and concerns.

Some long-time givers may hesitate this year because of the corrosive scandal at the United Way of America this year. Whether this or the sluggish economy is the chief reason, United Way nationwide is facing the roughest fund-raising season since World War II. "We'd feel very happy if we came out even with last year," says one national official.

Yet not everything is bleak. Even in this difficult environment there are companies and individuals who are increasing their giving. A local example is Alex. Brown & Sons, which has so far raised more than $540,000 from among its employees -- or 103 percent more than last year. AAI Corp., Roadnet Technologies, Provident Bank and State Street Bank are among other companies registering solid increases.

"We urge everyone who is fortunate to have a job to consider the thousands of people who are in need of United Way services each day and make a campaign pledge to support these services," urges Robert D. Kunisch, the PHH Corp. chief executive who co-chairs this year's campaign.

Can your contribution make a difference?

It can and it does. A gift of just $1 a week will provide two nights of shelter, clothing, housing and employment counseling for a homeless person.

Out of such small donations often come big achievements.

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