"We were so excited to be a part of the United Way," said Lola Thomas, executive director for the AIDS Alliance. "It's been a goal of ours for a while and we were so glad to see their support for our organization. For us, we certainly will appreciate the financial support, that probably goes without saying, but also just to be included with so many wonderful nonprofits in the community means a lot to us.
"To be a part of United Way lends a certain credibility to any organization that is a United Way agency. So for us it was a combination of, 'Thank you, we could use extra money,' and also just being a part of it."
Based in Cartersville, AIDS Alliance assists nearly 110 HIV/AIDS clients, ranging in age from 14 to 70, in 10 northwest Georgia counties.
With grants being difficult to obtain, the nonprofit is trying to increase its local funding -- donations and benefits -- to 10 percent to continue offering services, some of which include transportation for clients, support groups, and prevention and housing programs.
This year, AIDS Alliance has transported clients to 124 medical appointments, conducted 30 support groups, delivered 600 food bags, provided prevention education classes to 615 individuals, and conducted free, rapid HIV testing for 203 people.
The funding the organization will receive from the United Way will go toward the AIDS Alliance's emergency services.
"In our case, emergency services for our people would be food and transportation to get to medical appointments and assistance with emergency types of occurrences like utilities or that sort of thing as well," Thomas said. "So anything that could potentially put our clients at risk of homelessness or lack of heat and certainly also getting them transported to medical appointments is a big issue for us."
In addition to the AIDS Alliance, the United Way is supporting 14 other local agencies: Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, Bartow County 4-H Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, Bartow Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross, Christian League for Battered Women, New Beginnings Food Outreach, The Salvation Army, Good Shepherd Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hickory Log Vocational School, North Bartow Community Services, Bartow Health Access and Advocates for Children. The nonprofits provide services to more than 60,000 area residents each year.
To help provide needed funding to these organizations, the United Way kicked off its 2011 Live United Campaign with the Dennis Grogan Memorial Sporting Clay Tournament on Aug. 7.
"We had a really, really great turnout," said Brenda Morehouse, president for the United Way of Bartow County. "We had 94 shooters, and it grossed $28,000.
"I think it was a great way to get people together and excited about the campaign and to get the word out that we're getting a head start this year to be able to hit all the businesses here in Cartersville and really try to get people aboard because we really need it. ... this year there's been a lot more layoffs at a lot of the companies and there's a lot of shrink. We can make up for that by getting other people involved, and I think this was a great way to get the word out that we're starting early and really need people to get involved."
Continuing through Nov. 30, the campaign primarily generates funds through payroll deductions, which enables employees to donate a minimal amount yearlong, with a portion of their paycheck designated to the United Way. Last year, about 50 companies helped the United Way meet its goal of raising $575,000 by offering payroll deduction and providing corporate matches. For the past two years, the top supporters of the drive have been Georgia Power, Shaw Industries, Publix and Anheuser-Busch.
Although no monetary goal has been set yet for this year's campaign, the United Way is trying to recruit at least 70 companies to become involved and industrious in its fundraising efforts. As businesses start or contemplate offering payroll deduction to their employees, Thomas welcomes individuals to tour or seek information about the AIDS Alliance.
"I think we would just like to encourage anyone who does not know much about our organization and would like to know more to contact us," Thomas said. "We had a group come by and visit us Monday of this week from Shaw Industries as they begin their campaign to just get to know more about us and that was just wonderful. We were very pleased to have them come visit us and learn more about our organization. So we would encourage anyone to do that if they would like a firsthand look at what we do."
For more information about the United Way, call 770-386-1677 or visit www.bartowliveunited.org. More details about the AIDS Alliance can be obtained by calling 770-606-0953.