United Way panels visit agencies

WHEELING – The United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley Allocation Panel D toured the W.A.T.C. H. Sheltered Workshop’s Main Street facility recently to learn more about the services offered and the need for United Way funds.

As the 2013-2014 United Way Campaign draws to a close, the five all-volunteer allocation panels began their visits to their assigned United Way member agencies. Once the panels complete the visits, members will prepare a recommendation on the amount each of their assigned agencies should receive. The recommendations next are sent to the Allocation Executive Committee, made up of the co-chairs of each panel, for consideration. The recommendation prepared by the Allocation Executive Committee is given to the volunteer United Way Board of Directors for its funding decision.

Panel D was spending its day touring the Russell Nesbitt Center, the W.A.T.C.H. workshop, Wheeling Health Right and the Salvation Army – Marshall, Wetzel Tyler Corps in Moundsville.

As Kurt Benedict, W.A.T.C.H. executive director, awaited the panel’s arrival, he observed the allocation process for the United Way funds “means (taking care of) all of the little things that come up.”

A large hole in the building’s exterior wall is being repaired after a vehicle ran into it on Christmas Eve, and the workshop’s van is off the road because frame issues mean it cannot pass West Virginia vehicle inspection. The bailer the workshop uses to prepare shredded documents for shipment is not working properly, and the agency is facing a repair bill.

“So, it’s funding for all the little things,” he said. “Russell Nesbitt helps with funding, there are grants and other agency support, but the United Way funds are a big part of our operating funds. They are critical to everything we do.”

Bonnie Ritz, W.A.T.C.H. board member, said the allocation process makes it possible for the agency to help “the community understand what we do, why we’re here.” The panel met some of the clients and learned about the businesses the clients serve through the contracted work, Ritz said.

George Krupica of Main Street Bank co-chairs Panel D with Anna Mae Kuhayda of Northwood Health Systems.

“Our panel is a diverse group from all areas of the community,” he said.

Krupica has volunteered on the panels for 10 years, motivated by his service as the Association for Retarded Citizens president several years ago.

“I work for Main Street Bank and we found W.A.T.C.H. provides services we can use,” he said, citing the WatchDog secure document destruction service. “Once you see what the agencies do, you want to get more involved and help out.”

Jodi Blatt of Williams may be a first-time allocation panel member, but she is a returning United Way volunteer at W.A.T.C.H.

“Williams is a huge supporter of the United Way,” she said. “We came here as a group during the Day of Caring, and we did painting in one of the restrooms. We stayed in contact with Kurt – we recycle our cardboard here. When we were approached at work about being on the Allocations Panels, four us said ‘sure.’ Here we are!”

The group toured the facility as Benedict explained the services available, such as the WatchDog document shredding and Files at Your Fingertips file service, bulk mailing and recycling. Once the tour was complete, the group sat down to discuss the financial request to the United Way.

Christine Mitchell of Dominion; Lisa Mullin of the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce; Todd Cover of The Citizens Bank; Mark Sliter-Hays of Catholic Charities; Donald Stenger of AAA East Central; and Michelle Poland of The Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley also serve on the panel.

Although the weather caused several panels to cancel their visits, new dates have been scheduled.

For information about making a donation to the United Way, contact the office at 51 11th St., Wheeling, WV 26003, or call 304-232-4625.