(Leader-Times (Kittanning, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 04--United Way of Armstrong County has started a fundraising campaign to rebuild the agency that has been struggling the last few years.
The agency wants to raise $150,000 in the next six months to cover operating costs and to fund 10 nonprofit groups across the county, said Executive Director Larry Bussard, who has been with the organization since February.
"This United Way all but disappeared from the public radar in Armstrong County over the last several years," Bussard said. "I'm hoping to see it return to prominence because this organization really supports the county and its communities."
The fundraising campaign kicked off on Monday and runs through Feb. 28. Bussard plans to host a private kick-off event with the organization's board of directors, business owners and elected officials at the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning on Sept. 17.
The agency has battled budget cuts and was forced to lay off one of its two staff member because of anemic fundraising efforts in the last few years. To cut costs, United Way moved its office in downtown Kittanning to the Armstrong County Community Agency building in East Franklin and eliminated its website.
Bussard said aggressive soliciting of businesses for donations and establishing a stronger public profile pave the way to turn the agency's problems around.
"We're running at the absolute bare bones minimum," said Bussard, who is the agency's only employee. "My goal for this agency is to cut expenses and beef up our income. I want to start low and, depending how this campaign goes, progressively increase our goals."
As part of the campaign, Bussard will meet with employers throughout the county to discuss ways to get their workers to donate as little as $1 per month to the United Way through voluntary paycheck deductions.
During his visits, Bussard said he'll discuss the United Way's role in the county, the agencies it supports and how donations help them.
The United Way provides funding to ARC Manor, the Community Action Mentoring Program, the Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center, Life Choices, Lifesteps, the Mechling-Shakley Veterans Center, Orphans of the Storm, the Richard G. Snyder YMCA, The Salvation Army and Salvation Army Service Unit.
"We raise money to give it away to other charitable organizations," Bussard said. "Our thought is if we can fundraise, then bringing in money becomes less of a concern for those other agencies and they can focus on providing services."
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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