Looking at how things change

There were some interesting thoughts that came out of the Weirton United Way’s annual meeting.

The campaign volunteers and agency representatives who gathered Tuesday in the Millsop Community Center were there to celebrate the end of the United Way’s recently completed campaign and to look ahead to the start of the next campaign.

Much-deserved thanks went to everyone involved in the effort, including board President John Frankovitch, campaign Chair Don Gianni Jr. and Executive Director Kristin Bowman-Cross. Under their direction, a team of volunteers ensured that the organization was able to exceed its goal of $260,000.

That means the 13 agencies that participate under the Weirton United Way umbrella will be able to continue to serve residents of the Northern Panhandle. That’s important, especially with the changes our area’s economy has seen in the last several years, a fact that was not lost on Frankovitch.

He pointed out that need in our region’s communities continues to grow and that it now crosses all demographic lines. In fact, an increasing number of agencies are reporting that some of the people who are now receiving services are the same people who have been contributors in the past. And that means United Ways around the country – not only the ones that cover Jefferson County, Weirton and the Upper Ohio Valley- are going have to take an even harder look at the way they allocate the money that is donated to them.

That process of distributing money among the agencies that receive funding from the United Way is becoming more complex and can no longer be looked at as a rubber stamp or simply meeting and checking off a box, Frankovitch said. It’s a thought that’s shared among United Way officials across our region, as greater demands are being placed on the various member agencies.

That’s what makes the successful completion of the tasks facing Michael Hagg, who will chair the 2014 Weirton campaign, and Cory Wingett, who will chair the United Way of Jefferson County’s next campaign, even more important, something that was not lost in Frankovitch, who reminded Tuesday’s dinner attendees that area residents will be watching to see how the United Way responds to the community.

Frankovitch also discussed how the United Way has changed over the years.

“The United Way looks dramatically different today from the way it looked five or six years ago,” he explained. “And it looks radically different from the way it looked 10 years ago.”

The many changes that have happened in that period have included, for instance, an increased presence on the Internet, including a website that has become a critical component in the way the organization communicates with the community and its volunteers.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and while the accomplishments of one United Way campaign are recognized, it’s reassuring to know that work on the next campaign is already under way.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)