JAMESTOWN – Over $1.3 million was raised during this year’s United Way of Southern Chautauqua County campaign, during a time where the group’s executive director says the need is greater than ever.
Executive Director Amy Rohler tells WNY News Now the money raised will help 28 local agencies run 43 programs.
In a normal year the services would impact around 23,000 people in need; however, Rohler says this year the need may be more due to shortfalls created by the pandemic.
“Given the people who have been impacted economically, there has been an increased need for meals on wheels with seniors and food pantries have been visited more often as people are out of work,” explained Rohler. “I’m not sure what next year is going to look like, but I know these funds are going to go where they are needed most.”
The director says each year 60 volunteers meet to determine what programs receive funding based on the greatest need at the time.
“It’s the community that raises this money, and it’s the community that decides on how to invest it, and where it is needed the most,” Rohler furthered.
The fundraising campaign started in September and ran through this month. Rohler enrolled the help of former campaign chairs, where in total they raised $1,308,445.26.
She says COVID-19 health concerns change a lot; but one thing has remained the same, the connection between people.
“In spite of the tools that you use to be able to raise money, it is really about the relationships, it is about conversations with people, it’s about taking the time to talk about where their dollars and charitable contributions have been,” said Rohler. “And I’ll bet you that 100-years-ago that was the same.”
The group started in 1920 as the Jamestown Community Chest, kicking off their first campaign after residents banded together to help neighbors struggling amid the Spanish Flu Pandemic.
Rohler says in the end she thanks all volunteers, donors and most of all, the community for making their 100-plus years of service possible.