Dartmouth United Way Launches the 2016 Campaign With a $275,500 Goal

Organizers aim for 200 new donors to support Upper Valley service agencies.

Granite United Way is a “small d democratic organization” with local people deciding how to fund scores of Upper Valley service organizations, United Way’s Rob Schultz told the crowd at the kick-off for the Dartmouth campaign Tuesday.

At a breakfast for volunteers held at the president’s house on Oct. 11, Dartmouth United Way co-chairs Gail Gentes and Rick Mills, executive vice president at the College, announced this year’s goals of raising $275,500 by Dec. 15 and attracting 200 first-time donors.

Gentes welcomed this year’s coordinators and began the launch event by highlighting four United Way sponsored organizations in the Upper Valley: WISE, dedicated to ending sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking; Chore Corps at The Grafton County Senior Citizen Center, which helps seniors stay in their homes; The Upper Valley Smiles Program at Alice Day Peck Memorial Hospital, providing restorative dental care for children; and the emergency fuel assistance program at Southeastern Vermont Community Action, which helps families struggling with heating costs.

She asked the volunteers to imagine the people who could lose access to vital services without the funds Dartmouth contributes to United Way each year. “So when someone asks you ‘why should I give?,’ you will be able to talk with them about the potential consequences of not giving,” Gentes said.

Schultz, the featured speaker at the breakfast, stressed the significant contribution Dartmouth’s campaign has made over the past 40 years.

“I want to celebrate your successful efforts last year. Dartmouth raised over $300,000, making it the top campaign in the Upper Valley and third in the Granite United Way footprint,” Schultz said. That footprint includes all of New Hampshire as well as Windsor County, Vermont, he said, adding that all money raised by the Dartmouth campaign stays in the Upper Valley.

For a decade before becoming area director, Schultz headed COVER, based in White River Junction, Vt., which provides weatherization and home repair work for those with limited resources. As director of an agency that applied for United Way funding every year, he saw firsthand the passion and commitment of the 24 community volunteers who review annual funding requests.

“This group sits down with every organization to review their requests. It is a new group every year, so you have to make your case. They have smart questions, and they balance the overall needs of the community,” he said.

Granite United Way also allows donors to select a favorite program or specify funds in the broader areas of education, income security, health, or Granite United Way initiatives, Schultz said.

One such initiative is the Working Bridges program, an employer collaborative dedicated to improving workplace productivity and financial stability for employees. Through efforts such as loans for car repairs so that employees can get to work, or help with debt reduction, Working Bridges aims to remove financial barriers that can lead to job insecurity.

“All you need to do is look at the bridges, churches, and fields across our landscape. This was not built by people working alone. It took all of the community to get it done. The same things are happening now in the work you do,” Schultz told the coordinators.

United Way packets will show up in mailboxes all over campus this week. People can learn more about the campaign or make a make a secure online donation on the Dartmouth United Way website, Gentes said.