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United Way launches aggressive campaign PDF Print E-mail
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:04

Northern Ozaukee agency increases goal by $100,000 to address homelessness, mental health issues

   With its agencies facing ever increasing and complex problems, United Way of Northern Ozaukee is increasing this year’s campaign goal significantly — to $400,000.
    “There are some critically needed programs that have surfaced that we want to take part in,” Executive Director Barbara Bates-Nelson said. “The needs are changing and there are needs emerging that we are looking at.
    “We feel like we have a responsibility to help. We have our existing partners and we have these new areas where we want to make a difference, so we’re going to try to raise an additional $100,000.”
    Last year’s United Way of Northern Ozaukee campaign goal was $300,000, and it raised $313,000 to support 14 community nonprofit groups, Bates-Nelson said.
    Reaching the goal isn’t going to be easy, she admitted, but it’s needed if United Way is to continue helping its existing agencies while aiding in new ways as well.   
    “It’s definitely going to be challenging,” she said. “But we just have to get in front of as many people as we can.
    “There’s tremendous pressure out there to get dollars, and it’s tough sometimes to get people to recognize the needs here.”
    With this year’s campaign, United Way plans to continue its efforts to fight homelessness, Bates-Nelson said.
    “We see it as very important,” she said. “We’re trying to provide a safety net for people.”
    So many people are a medical condition or car repair away from homelessness in a county that doesn’t always see the needs, Bates-Nelson said, noting last year United Way assisted 48% more people — 72 individuals and 30 families — at risk of being homeless than in the previous year.
    “People don’t realize it,” she said. “When they think of poverty, they think of the inner city. But we see people living paycheck to paycheck, who suddenly have a major expense and it just spirals from there.”
    As part of this effort, United Way is directing people to www.wisconsin.makingtoughchoices.org, where they can take a walk in the shoes of Alice, a woman living on the edge and make the choices she needs to in order to survive, Bates-Nelson said.
    “It really brings those tough choices home,” she said.
    This year, the United Way is also looking to increase its efforts in children’s advocacy, mental health initiatives, she said.
    “Mental health is a big issue,” Bates-Nelson said. “There are so many things tied to it, including substance abuse.”
    She pointed to a recent analysis that showed a 4% increase in the number of residents reporting mental health conditions between 2008 and 2014, that 3% of people had considered committing suicide during the past year. Eleven people committed suicide during 2016, according to the analysis.
    As part of the mental health initiative, United Way hopes to help fund a child advocacy center in Ozaukee County, Bates-Nelson said.
    “This will be a team of people who will be able to follow a case from the time a child’s voice is heard through prosecution and treatment,” she said.
    In the past, the county has worked with a center in Milwaukee, but the caseload was so great that it could no longer handle the work. Now, a local child advocacy center is being formed to handle cases in Ozaukee, Washington and Sheboygan counties, she said, with funding coming from all three counties.
    “This will be a first,” Bates-Nelson said. “A stand-alone center for each of us would be a huge investment, but working together we can provide a state-of-the-art model.
    United Way is currently in the process of creating an online directory of services available to people in the county, Bates-Nelson said, and it is also embarking on several campaign-opening events.
    The Stone Soup event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 7, at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Saukville, is intended as a way to bring people together and make soup to be distributed to those in need through the Saukville and Family Sharing food pantries and Advocates of Ozaukee.
    The organization is still looking for volunteers and ingredients for the soup, including fresh garden produce and nonperishable food items such as Parmesan cheese, pasta and vegetable and chicken stock, as well as homemade desserts and healthy after-school snacks.  
    United Way is also taking part in a Pay it Forward event, in which 1,000 special tokens are being handed out to people in the community who have done some good.
    Bates-Nelson said she hopes these stories will then be posted on the United Way Facebook page and inspire others to take action and make a difference.
    In addition to the campaign, United Way of Northern Ozaukee is taking part in a Fashion Fling event this week in which women can trade in used handbags for as much as $20 off a new purse from Zing boutique in Port Washington.
    Anyone interested in providing ingredients for the Stone Soup event or volunteering for the event is asked to contact Bates-Nelson by calling (248) 613-7855 or emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:11
 
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