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United Way Presents: United Way of Orange County provides hope for many

By Dawn Burleigh

(Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a 21 week series on the partners of the United Way of Orange County.)

Last year was a year we will not soon forget. Orange County faced a global pandemic, two hurricanes and a winter freeze. Through it all, United Way of Orange County was boots on the grounds making sure its partner agencies had what they needed to help provide for those in needs during these trying times.

This year the theme for fundraising campaign is A Year of Renewal.

When on donates to United Way of Orange County, 98.5-percent of the funds stay local. Each partner of the organization is vetted each year.

“Partners are vetted to make sure they are using the funds ethically and legally,” Campaign Cochair Emily Mellens said during the Campaign Kickoff on Thursday. This year the meeting was held via Zoom due to the rise in the number of COVID cases in the area. “United Way of Orange County has 90-plus years of serving the community.”

Last year 12,000 residents benefited from United Way. Nearly $900,000 was provided to the community for assistance after Harvey, Imelda, Laura, Winter Storm Uri and COVID-19.

Lesser known impacts include 95 women and children were provided refuge from domestic violence, 728 received trauma and crisis support, 194 residents received alcohol/drug counseling and treatment and 1,029 disabled residents were served. All because of the funding provided through the United Way of Orange County by donations from the community.

United Way of Orange County President and CEO Maureen McAllister has seen first hand the impact the organization has had on the community.

“Having worked in the nonprofit area for nearly five years now, I have heard and seen so many stories that are truly heartbreaking.  But the beauty for me is that I get to see the other side – I see what a difference our Partner Agencies and our organization makes in our community,” McAllister said. “There are so many stories of impact, and I’m grateful that I get to be a part of the change to improve lives.”

United Way continues to work to improve the health, education and financial stability of our community, as well as helping bring in many resources during times of disasters.

To become involved with the United Way, one can donate through their employer, online or mail in a donation to: UNITED WAY OF ORANGE COUNTY, P.O. BOX 1583, ORANGE, TX  77631-1583. One can advocate for the agency by becoming informed by following and sharing their posts on social media. During this fundraising campaign, they will have several posts about the partner agencies and the people they affect.

Another way is to volunteer by giving your time and talent to one of the partners or at special events such as GOLF UNITED. In 2020, 1,400 volunteer hours were provided.

Ways to donate are using amazonesmile, Facebook birthday fundraisers, being a change maker. You can ‘round up’ your spare change with every credit or debit card purchase. Find out more by texting UWOC to 43506 or online at https://unitedwayorangecounty.harnessapp.com/roundup/

Upcoming events for United Way are:

GOLF UNITED on September 20

Orangetober Festival on October 1 and 2

Granger 5K on October 9

Day of Caring on October 15

Together Thursdays October 21 and 28