This summer I had the utmost pleasure of interning at Lycoming County United Way. While still in school and looking for a place to do my internship, I came across United Way. As far as I knew, it was an organization to help people, but other than that, I had no clue as to what the people of United Way actually do.
I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I would be working in the marketing department and helping to promote United Way. I didn't realize I would take in so much knowledge of the community and meet so many important people.
The start of my internship was learning how United Way raises money to help non-profit organizations in Lycoming County. The biggest fundraiser is the annual campaign that is held every fall. In the office, hundreds of hours are put into getting the campaign materials organized and distributed to employee workplaces, then more hours are spent receiving and inputting the campaign pledged donations. A network of more than 1,000 volunteers supports campaign efforts.
Ben Breining spent his summer as an intern with the Lycoming County United Way.
The workplace campaign is targeted towards a variety of businesses and schools throughout Lycoming County. There is the option to employees to have an automatic payroll deduction each pay period in any amount from $1 up.
The campaign is the biggest fundraiser, however, it is not the only way United Way raises money. Throughout the year United Way holds special events. One new event this year is basket bingo, which will be held Nov. 9 at Old Lycoming Township fire hall. Another fundraiser was the second annual Golf Outing that was held in August.
This year, the golf outing raised more than $26,000 and was a huge success. One of my many tasks as intern was to write up an outline, work with, and schedule each program partner to record a 30-second public service announcement for the radio as part of the golf outing. You may ask, what is a program partner? Program partners are local non-profit organizations that implement human service programs funded by United Way.
The distribution of funds raised is known as the allocation process. This process includes five categories of review panels and more than sixty community volunteers with each panel having a chair and co-chair, which are known as the steering committee. The steering committee works closely with the director of funds distribution and community building, and reports to the Lycoming County United Way Board of Directors.
United Way's five categories of community needs are:
Nurturing our children;
Serving those with special needs;
Caring for people in crisis;
Supporting our senior;
Strengthening our families.
These volunteers review the program partners' requests for funding and meet with them to ask questions and review the programs. Based on the program outcomes and the funds available, each panel recommends an allocation of funds to the volunteer steering committee. Each program is held accountable to meet a community need and show evidence that the program is serving people in our county. All United Way funds are allocated by community volunteers.
My time at Lycoming County United Way was very beneficial and has helped me realize what United Way actually does. United Way does not help only one person; it helps many people through numerous ways. One of the most interesting things I learned this summer was that 97 percent of the money raised by United Way stays right here in Lycoming County.
"Ben has been a big asset to our United Way via his internship this summer," said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. "We always welcome young people who exhibit an interest in volunteerism and a desire to help their community. His efforts not only helped us, but his experiences provided him and other young people with a greater understanding of the important role United Way plays in improving the lives of thousands of our Lycoming County neighbors."
For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to donate, call 323-9448.