Charity to kick off campaign

September 08, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

Facing the challenge of growing needs at time of shrinkage in its workplace core of support, the United Way of Central Maryland kicks off its 1994 fund-raising campaign today.

Implementing changes in its operations -- stressing, much like a business, such things as accountability, quality customer service and stronger community partnerships -- United Way hopes to raise a modest $68,000 more for charity than last year's $27.5 million.

An increase in donations would mark a turnaround after two years of a decline in giving to the organization. The 1993 figure represented a 3 percent drop from the previous year, and fell well short of the $31.3 million goal.

United Way had plenty of targets for finger-pointing in its two-year decline, including a faltering state economy and the tarnish left by the 1992 scandal involving the costly lifestyle of departed national United Way chief William Aramony.

But it did not ignore its own operations. What the organization described as a "voluntary -- and volunteer-based -- examination produced recommendations with a goal of developing a multi-year business plan and altering strategies in fund raising and support of participating charities.

Today's kickoff will feature the United Way's third annual Day of Caring. Volunteers will work at 80 charity sites in the city and Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford counties.

About 1,400 employees from 90 area companies and organizations will volunteer at local charities and parks for tasks ranging from manual labor to career counseling.

"I want the volunteers to reach out and touch and feel and meet and know the people that United Way helps and bring that back to their companies," said Joseph E. Blair, chairman of the 1994 campaign. He is president and chief executive officer of Baltimore Life Insurance Co.

"We really feel that people need to see firsthand exactly how their dollars are being utilized," said Norman O. Taylor, president and chief professional officer of United Way of Central Maryland.

Workplace campaigns run by employees raise 75 percent of the money that United Way distributes, mostly to social service charities and agencies.

As part of today's kickoff, 78 volunteers from CSX, First Data Resources, Ernst and Young, and the University of Maryland Medical Systems will be paired with children and teen-agers at Baltimore's Woodbourne Center, which has residential facilities for young people with emotional disabilities.

The volunteers and their young charges will be kept busy.

"In the morning they will be involved in landscaping, weeding and planting fall flowers" at the 12-acre Woodbourne Avenue campus for teen-agers, said Sharon Stainback, a public relations assistant with the center. Volunteers also will paint recreation rooms at the program's Fayette Street building, for children ages six to 14.

In the afternoon, volunteers will cheer the young residents as they compete in tug-of-war, football toss, jump-rope and other athletic events.

The theme for this year's United Way campaign, which will run through early February, is "It brings out the best in all of us."

"I think United Way makes a big difference in the lives of people in Central Maryland," said Mr. Blair, who plans to visit several Day of Caring locations. "With thousands of people, it's the difference between despair and hope."

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