Helping United Way Help Howard

September 26, 1994

When the Children of Separation and Divorce Center counsels kids from broken homes, the United Way helps Howard County.

When Meals on Wheels delivers food to homebound seniors, the United Way helps Howard County.

When the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center keeps a troubled family from letting anger turn into violence, the United Way helps Howard County.

Last year, the United Way of Central Maryland provided services such as those cited above to 800,000 people in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. In Howard, the number of citizens assisted by the United Way exceeded 63,000, at a cost of nearly $948,000. That works out to roughly $15 per person served, which must rank among the great achievements of cost efficiency by any aid agency. It's typical of the United Way, though.

Anyone who has been tracking Howard's development as one of the most prosperous subdivisions in Maryland may be surprised to learn the county has 63,000 residents with social-service needs. More specifically, 5,800 Howard residents live below the poverty line, a third of them under 17. About 690 people were helped at Howard shelters last year, with another 330 turned away. Almost 280 cases of neglect and physical and sexual abuse were reported in the county two years ago.

These needs might go unmet if not for United Way donations to Howard-based agencies such as the Grassroots crisis center and homeless shelter, the Howard County Association for Retarded Citizens, local Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.

Total contributions to the United Way of Central Maryland dropped 3 percent last year, a downtick attributed to the layoffs and general belt-tightening caused by the recession. So it's all the more important that donors maintain, or even increase, their levels of giving. They can take comfort in the ease of weekly paycheck deductions and the diligence with which United Way officials monitor the effectiveness of programs.

The main persuaders? The money goes where it's intended to go, and it has a real impact. Ask any of the thousands of Howard residents whose lives have been made better by the United Way.

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