Groups make case for United Fund allocations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 31, 2004

Agencies serving the various needs of the county’s citizens recently pled their case before members of the Butler County United Fund board.

At an allocation meeting held at Greenville City Hall on Thursday evening, representatives from 16 organizations, schools and programs had the opportunity to come before the board and state their case for financial support from the United Fund.

Most of the representatives indicated the state’s continued financial crisis had forced them to further tighten their own belts, making

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United Fund allocations even more critical. Those who had received funding in the past year also shared how the United Fund monies had been used.

Janice Lehmann, long-time volunteer for the Butler Activity and Training Center, said the state’s budgetary cutbacks had forced the center to move from a five-day week to four days for the 32 disabled clients it serves.

&uot;We pick the clients up and take them home each day and provide lunch and so many activities to them at the center. This program is a great help to the client’s families to give them a chance to rest and recuperate. Our boy is gone, but I’m still working for them. I don’t think I would be here today if it weren’t for the activity center,&uot; said Lehman.

Pete Hamilton, representing the Boy Scouts, said some 400 boys, most of whom were students in the county’s public school system, benefited from the local scouting program. He asked the board to consider an increase to $5,000 from the previous allocation amount of $3,000.

&uot;This program emphasizes character and citizenship…I hope you will agree it is money well spent. We hope everybody’s allocation can be increased, which I know is difficult in these times,&uot; Hamilton said.

With the Butler County Boys and Girls Clubs still seeking to get off the ground locally, John Andrews was on hand to encourage the board to consider allocating much-needed funds to the cause.

&uot;I am honored to be one of the founders of this club in Butler County…[the Boys and Girls Club] is not a babysitting service. It will provide tutoring, computer lab and activities for the arts along with sports activities,&uot; Andrews said, adding, &uot;However, we don’t have a place yet and we don’t have the money right now. Believe me, if this saves just one boy or girl from entering the courtroom, it will all be worth it.&uot;

Though the Boys and Girls Club is a national program, Andrews told the board each individual club is responsible for its own fund-raising efforts.

He explained participants would be required to pay a charge for participation, saying, &uot;When you pay, you appreciate something more than if it is just given to you.&uot;

Susan Rhodes represented Safe Harbor, an agency that helps the county’s children who gave been victims of physical and sexual abuse. She said the agency was forced by the past year’s budgetary cuts to move to a four-day work week and cut its staff of two down to one person.

&uot;We do make a positive impact on these children. Money from the United Fund goes to counseling for them and for the forensic interviews needed before trials. We do hold fundraisers and apply for grants – but anything you can do would be a great help,&uot; Rhodes told the board.

Amanda Phillips, director of the Greenville Area YMCA, was visibly excited as she told the board the Y’s purchase of the Greenville Academy’s building and grounds would soon be completed. &uot;We will have the opportunity to double and triple everything we do,&uot; she explained.

Phillips said the expansion wasn’t coming a moment too soon.

&uot;We are so in need of that additional space and have great plans for it…I can tell you we have had 350 people a day coming through our doors during the summer,&uot; Phillips told the board.

She emphasized that no children are turned away from the facility. &uot;We gave out over $20,000 in scholarships this fiscal year…we do go through a rigorous check before we give these scholarships away, and you will see the parents of these scholarship children working concession stands and doing other things to help us out,&uot; Phillips assured the board.

The YMCA director said a DHR-licensed daycare with room for 80 children would be in place at the new location. &uot;We already have 68 children on the list,&uot; she told the board. Phillips said there are also plans in place for a handicapped-accessible pool, a water park, playground, walking trail and track on the Y’s new grounds.

&uot;With an increase in our programs and participants, I’m sure this will mean a needed increase in scholarship funds. Again, no child will be turned away,&uot; Phillips stressed.

Other organizations seeking allocations during Thursday night’s meeting included the Girl Scouts, McKenzie School, Red Cross of Central Alabama, OCAP Non-Perishable Food Bank, Butler County Department of Human Resources, Healthy Kids, Christian Light Ministries, South Butler Rescue Squad, the Butler County F-H Club, Children’s Depot of Georgiana and the Southern Shape Singing Convention.