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Published: Wednesday, 1/26/2005

Fulton County: Programs adjust to donation shortage

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - Funding for cancer screening and teen smoking cessation programs conducted by the Fulton County Health Department took the biggest hit from the Fulton County United Way's failure to reach its record fund-raising goal in 2004.

But the health department, which is still to get $5,100 from the United Way, has money for such programs leftover from last year and its leaders volunteered to halve their original request of $10,100 when the campaign was struggling.

That cut accounted for more than a fifth of the $23,000 in reductions the United Way board approved this month in its pledges to 21 charities. Its 2004 campaign ended with $326,600, which was 93 percent of its $350,000 goal.

Most of the organizations the county United Way pledged to support are to receive as much money as last year, albeit less than they had requested for this year.

"All in all it's not too horrible," executive director Gina Saaf said.

The 2004 donations set a record for the county with about $1,000 more than in 2003.

The board preserved its original pledges to the county chapter of the American Red Cross and several other organizations that provide basic, emergency assistance such as food and shelter. The Red Cross was allotted the largest chunk of United Way funds with $34,000. Wauseon FISH will get the $4,000 it was pledged and Delta Outreach will get $2,500.

Pledges also were preserved to several charities the board considered to be doing unique work in the county, such as Women & Family Services, which operates a rape crisis hotline and counseling services. The Defiance-based organization, which has an office in Wauseon, is to receive $7,500.

Some of the organizations that asked for the smallest pledges from the United Way are also to be fully funded. The Arthritis Foundation, for instance, will receive the $1,900 it was pledged for its aquatics program.

The second-largest cut, behind the county health department, was to Hands of Grace in Delta, which provides daycare and other services for elderly and handicapped people. It is to receive $20,000, down from the anticipated $22,200, but up from $19,000 last year.

The extra money requested was to help transport clients to appointments and to the organization's adult daycare, Ms. Saaf said.

At Four County Family Center, a counseling program for families at risk of a child being placed in foster care or elsewhere outside the home, was frozen at last year's United Way funding level. The Family Matters program, which receives most of its clients by referral from juvenile judges, will receive $12,000 instead of $13,500 as proposed earlier.

Ms. Saaf has blamed the shortfall in meeting the United Way's goal on economic uncertainties in the county.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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