Niagara Gazette

March 7, 2013

United Way undertaking review

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — SANBORN — One of Niagara County's largest community groups is undertaking an examination of its funding policies and formula for distributing dollars. 

The United Way of Greater Niagara announced this week the formation of an 18-member volunteer task force which will spend six to seven months reviewing a series of factors, including which agencies and programs receive undesignated funding from United Way, funding levels for areas of critical need in the community and how funding levels are determined. 

Undesignated funds are donations to United Way which are not designated for a specific agency, program or purpose. The review will not impact donor-designated contributions received through the annual Community Care Campaign.

“United Way is the steward for the donations people make to help make Niagara County a stronger community, and we take that charge very seriously,” said Carol Houwaart-Diez, president of the United Way of Greater Niagara. “This review process will help us ensure that we are putting those funds to their highest and best use.”

The members of the committee are: Joe Caridi, USW No. 0277/Goodyear Tire & Rubber; Julie Coy, State Farm Insurance; Brendan Dowd, DDS; Robert J. Hagen Delphi (retired); Brian Hellner, financial investor; Robert Kazeangin, Buffalo News; Rich Laskowski, New York State Division of Youth (retired); Beverly Maziarz, New York State Supreme Court; and Carrie H. Mitchell, Niagara Falls School District (retired).

Also: Dick McIntyre, CSEA #803/Niagara County (retired); Linda Mocny, D’Youville College; Joe Proietti, New York State Division of Youth (retired); Therese Quarantillo, Certified Public Accountant; Joanne M. Shippey – Merrill Lynch/Bank of America; Joe White, USW #0277/Goodyear Tire & Rubber; Michael Williamson, Williamson Funeral Home; Jerald Wolfgang, Western New York Regional Center for Economic Development; and Tyler Zikuski, Wegmans

The task force will submit its observations and recommendations to the United Way of Greater Niagara board of directors for review and action. According to Houwaart-Diez, any potential changes identified by the task force and approved by the board will not take effect until 2014, in order to provide all agencies ample time to prepare.

The review comes as United Way of Greater Niagara prepares to celebrate its third anniversary as a consolidated agency focused on serving the needs of all of Niagara County. United Way of Greater Niagara was formed in 2010 through the consolidation of the former United Way of Niagara and the former United Way of Eastern Niagara. In that time, the organization has completed three successful Community Care Campaigns, most recently raising more than $1.3 million to support 20 United Way agencies and more than 75 programs across Niagara County. More than 80,000 people from throughout Niagara County benefit from United Way-funded programs and services each year.

While a committee annually reviews recipients of Community Care Campaign funding from a programming perspective, this is the first substantive review of funding policies and formula undertaken by United Way of Greater Niagara – or its predecessor organizations – in several years.

“One of the overarching goals of the consolidation was to strengthen the services we provide so we could have the biggest possible impact on the lives of those we serve. This initiative is in keeping with that goal,” Houwaart-Diez said. “Our member agencies regularly adapt to growing trends and needs for the people they serve, and we need to do the same for Niagara County.”

A volunteer-driven agency, United Way of Greater Niagara provides and supports numerous programs throughout Niagara County that focus on making the community healthier and stronger. Each year, more than 80,000 people benefit from nearly 75 programs which United Way supports across the county. For more information, visit www.uwgn.org.