QUINCY -- Courtney Saxton knows from personal experience how programs supported by the United Way of Adams County can change lives.
"Twenty-four years ago, I was a single parent, and my child was enrolled at Cheerful Home day care, a partner agency of the United Way. I was able to take advantage of their sliding fee scale due to my income and was paying a very minimal amount for child care. The assistance I received at that time in my life was instrumental in helping me afford other basic necessities and is the main reason I have supported the United Way, both monetarily and through volunteerism, the past 20-plus years," Saxton said.
This is Saxton's first year on the United Way Board. The senior manager of the centralized adjustment unit at Blue Cross/Blue Shield also is a loaned executive for the 2018 campaign. It is easy for her to convey to others how deeply she feels the organization is contributing toward important local work.
"I fully believe that the most important part of a charitable organization, such as the United Way, is to lift people up in their time of need so they can eventually give back when their circumstances allow," Saxton said. "The United Way is fundamental to the overall health and vitality of our community. It offers both individuals and businesses an opportunity to contribute and give back to others in a very diverse and organized way. I look at the United Way as a bridge that helps connect individuals and families in our area to agencies and organizations that can help meet their greatest needs."
The United Way kicked off its 2018 fundraising campaign Aug. 2 by announcing a goal of raising $1.05 million. The campaign runs through January, headed by Hal Oakley and Mark Tyrpin.
The United Way of Adams County traces its roots to 1937. Robert F. Gunther, then the president of the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, along with presidents of the Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and Exchange clubs, nominated 12 people from the community. Six of those nominees were eventually elected as the board of directors of the Community Chest of Quincy. In the 1970s the organization became the United Way. More than $40 million has been allocated to member agencies during the past 81 years.
Saxton said the United Way now supports 20 partner agencies and more than 30 programs within those organizations. She said without the United Way, many organizations would be forced to operate with little funding or end the delivery of vital services.
"Each donation has the potential to positively impact education by ensuring the success of our children, financial stability by helping people get back on their feet in times of need, and health by increasing access to vital physical and mental health services so people can live their best life," Saxton said.
Adam Duesterhaus, director of development and communications for the United Way, said donating to the campaign is easier than ever. Anyone with a mobile device can text "MakeHereHappen" -- all one word -- to 91999 to donate.
"No amount is too small and will help United Way meet our goal for the people we serve right here in Adams County," Duesterhaus said.
Saxton said selfless donors, volunteers and agency staff members make the annual campaign possible.
"Their support helps each agency to spend more time focusing on their missions and providing quality of life services that our friends and neighbors can count on," Saxton said.