Programs could suffer if United Way fundraising goals fall short

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As the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois struggles to hit its fundraising goal in these tough economic times, it's reaching out for help.

Many of the agencies it serves could lose some funding if donations don't come in.

The United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois says fundraising started strong, about 10 percent ahead of pace, but slowed as the struggling economy worsened.

"Our hearts go out to so many families who've been affected by the economy, but at the same, we still stand around $108,000 shy of the goal," said Denise Smith, United Way of Decatur Mid-Illinois Executive Director.

Smith says the agency hopes to raise $2.5-million by March 31st or programs could suffer like the Oasis Day center. It's a service for the homeless and others in need through heritage behavioral health center.

"Everything from homeless individuals who come in to get off the streets, being able to take a shower, do their laundry, have a place to store their belongings, have transportation and case management services," said Nancy Rude, Oasis Director.

The Oasis has been at there present location for eight years. This April, it marks 10 years of service and with each passing year, more and more people need help. The Oasis has a yearly budget of about $350,000, about $50,000 comes from the United Way and without that money, the center may have to make some changes.

Rude says it's open every day of the year from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. That is something that could end if the money isn't there.

"We'd probably have to reduce our hours of services and one of the reasons we're open seven days a week is that the needs of our clientele, they're seven days a week obviously," Rude said.

With state funding slashed, the United Way money is even more important.

Rude said, "Without United Way funding, we'd have a huge gap to fill."

If you'd like to donate to the United Way, you can find a link on our website under sitewatch or call 422-8537. You can also send a donation to this address: 202 E. Eldorado, suite b, Decatur 62523.

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