Mesa United Way Pledge Drive April 8

In just 12 weeks, the 2011-2012 Mesa United Way Pledge Campaign will end with what officials hope will be $2,825,000 they can use to fund 26 nonprofit agencies that help homeless families, low-income senior citizens, people with disabilities, children in foster care, and others in need of assistance throughout the East Valley.

This year’s campaign goal was bumped up from the previous year because so many people in our community are continuing to struggle from an economy that took away their jobs, businesses, income and homes. Many were once regular donors to the United Way, only to find in the past few years that they are now in need of help themselves.

As of last week, the campaign had raised $2,234,531 — still short more than $590,000 of its goal.

“Although we are getting close to our campaign goal, we are not there, and this is always a high anxiety time as we are only a few months away,” said Linda Haskell, resource development director. “We see the needs and requests to our agencies are greater than ever and our support to them is critical.”

Last fiscal year (July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011), agencies funded by the Mesa United Way provided assistance to 30,858 people. In addition, agencies that feed those in need – Meals on Wheels, United Food Bank and Paz de Cristo – served 4,631,686 meals. (For more on Paz de Cristo, see today’s “A Helping Hand” feature on Page 4)

The United Way pledge drive always brings out the best in people, and this year’s campaign is no exception. Recently, DMB Associates donated $15,000 from the proceeds of hosting the Tough Mudder competition. High school students at the East Valley Institute of Technology recently raised nearly $3,000 for the campaign.

And then, there are the folks at Leisure World in east Mesa, who, under the tireless leadership of resident Howard Rubin, raised $7,226 by hosting a golf tournament and $20,248 so far in a residential campaign.

For those who have already contributed to this year’s pledge drive, the Mesa United Way thanks you, and we thank you too. For those who haven’t made a donation, we hope you’ll consider making one.

Only you know how much you can afford to give, but no donation is too small; it all helps. Maybe one weekend, you stay at home with your family instead of driving to the movie theater or some other venue — and then donate what you would have spent on gas and tickets. Maybe for one week, you give up that morning grande, double espresso latte on the way to work — and then donate the money saved.

And, if you are someone who lost a job or home or experienced a severe pay cut, don’t let these tough economic times also rob you of the satisfaction and feelings of belonging that come when you contribute to your community: You can still make an impact. Think about it: If each of the 30,858 people who received help from United Way-funded agencies last year donates $1, that’s a contribution of more than $30,000. If each one gets a friend to donate $1, that doubles to more than $60,000.

There is indeed power in numbers. So let’s pool our numbers and get that pledge drive total where it needs to be to keep our community strong.

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