Ask Carrie Sowers and Jasmine Smiith what they think about the United Way and they might tell you it brings a bright light shining among hard times to strengthen helping hands from and for the community.
Sowers serves as the director of Atchison Child Care Association and Smith is the director of the Boys and Girls Club. They both agreed the ongoing pandemic has brought on unexpected challenges to the operations of their respective agencies.
“During the pandemic if it wasn’t for the United Way and the support of the community we would not have made it,” Sowers said of the ACCA.
It is a similar dilemma for the Boys and Girls Club. “The United Way is an integral part of the Club that has allowed us to stay open and keep salaries paid,” Smith said. The support has allowed the Club to provide snacks for the youngsters and to offer activities as well.
Even though Atchison Area United Way leaders are wrapping up the annual campaign fund drive it’s never too late for giving to fulfill the needs in the community.
Within the past year, the Atchison Area United Way distributed $143,000 from the 2020 campaign drive to partner agencies in the community, and the United Way Board of Directors are hopeful to surpass that amount said Campaign Coordinator Abigail Perdue of the 2021 United Way endeavor . Contributors can send their pledges to P.O. Box 403.
The United Way thermometer located along the corner of 10th and Main Street shows the campaign is climbing toward the goal of $210,000, but some pledges have yet to be totaled and the 2021 campaign organizers are still accepting pledges.
Representatives of United Way partner agencies, supporters and board members gathered Thursday to check-in, show support and gauge the accomplishments thus far along the 2021 campaign.
In addition to Sowers and Smith, there were representatives from partner agencies represented at the Jan. 21 gathering. The group included Serena Parker, of The Boys and Girls Club, Lorin Affield, of Atchison YMCA, Stephanie Barnes, of Project Concern, Kim Bottorff, Salvation Army, and Perdue of Riverbend Habitat for Humanity.
Affield said the United Way helps the Y deliver numerous programs to the community like the Livestrong Program for cancer survivors, enhanced fitness and the second-grade swim program for all second-graders throughout Atchison County.
Also present were some United Way supporters: Rick Berger, of the Berger Company; Karen Seaberg representing the Cray and Seaberg Family Foundations; Roger Caudle; City Manager Becky Berger, on behalf of the City of Atchison; Elizabeth Collins, Amberwell Heath; Ginger Huninghake, Exchange Bank, and David Dykstra and Michael Buttshaw of MGP.
Seaberg said her father the late Cloud “Bud” Cray was a strong advocate for the United Way and ensured Cray Foundation and MGP’s involvement in the United Way support. Seaberg continues to carry on the family tradition of supporting the United Way and sharing Cray’s sentiment. He always wanted to give to the United Way because it is a way to give to the community and to the organizations it serves.
There are some upcoming highlights planned for spring, Perdue said. Plans to partner with Fox Theatre and Theatre Atchison is in the works for a fun night of trivia set for Saturday, March 20 at Atchison Event Center where the is plenty of room for social distancing.
Perdue said the other bit of exciting news is that Atchison Area United Way is developing a website to launch in spring that will assist in linking the community to the resources available from the partner agencies.
The Atchison Area United Way Board of Directors are: President Rick Falk, Secretary Janet Umphenour; Treasurer Jennifer Maxwell; and members Amanda Trimble and Kelly Burton.