The Dartmouth United Way Campaign set the largest-ever goal of $320,000 this year, announced campaign co-chair Gail Gentes at a kick-off breakfast Tuesday, where she spoke about how volunteering at the Upper Valley Haven drove home to her the difference United Way makes to neighbors in need.
In September, she joined about 160 Dartmouth students for the Day of Caring workday. Gentes’ group worked in the Haven’s food pantry, where she did quality control on donated nonperishable food items. Most pantry food donations can’t be sold in the stores because they are physically damaged or because the expiration date has passed.
“Here I was making decisions on whether food I couldn’t buy for my family was OK for someone else’s family, and there were some tough decisions,” Gentes said.
“I was struck by the sheer numbers of families who rely on the Haven’s pantry for their food,” Gentes said. “Living in a college community, we are not often confronted with how difficult life is for many in our community.”
Last year more than 8,000 people received some sort of support from the Upper Valley Haven, one of 40 agencies or nonprofits in the area supported by Granite United Way.
Gentes, the wife of President Phil Hanlon ’77, hosted a kick-off breakfast at the president’s house for the Dartmouth United Way coordinators, who will bring the campaign back to their departments. She announced this year’s campaign goals, along with co-chair Rick Mills, executive vice president for administration.
Giving to Dartmouth United WayThis year’s target of $320,000 is $15,000 more than the $305,000 raised last year, which was the most ever raised by the College and the highest single contribution to Granite United Way in the Upper Valley.
United Way pledge cards will go out to all Dartmouth faculty and staff through Hinman mail and coordinators will be in touch with department co-workers to answer questions and provide updates on the campaign.
This year, the committee worked with Granite United Way to set up a secure Dartmouth online giving site through the Dartmouth United Way Website with options including giving through payroll deduction and designating specific organizations for contributions.
The campaign also includes a biweekly raffle for donors, and options for departmental volunteer efforts and visiting speakers from the United Way partner agencies.
For more information, visit the Dartmouth United Way Website.
In addition, Dartmouth United Way aims to bring in 100 more donors this year and is inviting students to join the campaign, not as donors but to help raise awareness and engagement this year.
“The enthusiasm and energy of our students, many of them United Way volunteers, shows how committed they are to improving our community,” Gentes said.
In fact, the featured speaker at the breakfast, Rob Schultz, executive director of COVER Home Repair, said his organization was founded in 1998 by three Dartmouth students— Nancy Bloomfield ’99, Rhona Dallison ’99, and Danra Kazenski ’99.
“COVER Home Repair’s mission is to foster hope and build community,” Schultz told the coordinators.
COVER volunteers do urgently needed home repairs such as roofs, accessibility ramps, structural repairs, and weatherization for low-income homeowners, often preventing homelessness, he said. Some 85 percent of COVER homeowners make less than the Federal Poverty Guideline for the area—$24,000 for a family of four.
“To help you understand our work better, I’d like to tell you about Morris, who lives in Canaan, N.H.,” Schultz said. COVER heard about Morris from his Meals-on-Wheels case manager.
“When we met Morris, he’d been unable to leave his house for two years. He needed an accessibility ramp so he could leave his home and so that caregivers could safely access his home,” Schultz said. Morris hosted a group of Hanover High School volunteers who helped build the ramp.
“He is now dry, warm, and safe—and able to exit his home and feed the squirrels on his porch,” Schultz said.
Last year’s United Way grant of $37,900 to COVER helped the nonprofit complete 50 to 60 home repair projects, as well as 70 weatherization projects, all within 45 minutes of White River Junction, Vt.
“And many not very far from the Dartmouth Green,” Schultz said.