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Part 2: Names change; funding goals remain same

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Aug. 10, 2012 at 3:10 a.m.

The organization that is now the United Way has flown under many flags during its 125 years of existence including 65 years in Victoria - Red Feather, Community Chest and United Fund.

No matter the name, Jennifer Yancey of Victoria College believes in the United Way.

"I have been contributing to the United Way since the day I started working back in 1987 and haven't stopped," said Yancey, VC's vice president of College Advancement and External Affairs. "I think it's a wonderful way to have such a great impact on the community."

Yancey, who has been on the board of directors of the Victoria County United Way for eight years and on the executive committee for two, chaired the Community Investment Committee for the 2012 campaign.

She thinks the grant process is thorough and fair. A group of about 30 community volunteers plus members of the executive committee not only screen the grant applications, but also make site visits to each agency and listen to agency presentations.

Yancey said the volunteers probably log 300 hours during the process.

"I think it's important that the volunteers go out and visit the agencies and see them in operation," said Yancey.

Yancey encouraged others to get involved as United Way volunteers.

"They get a lot out of it. It helps them understand their community and the needs better," she said.

Prior year funding does not guarantee new funding. Each grant year is zero-based and starts over every year, she said.

The deliberation process includes looking at the community need and the biggest impact, not to duplicate services and demonstration of accountability, said Yancey.

"It's really a year-round process," Yancey explained. "If you are a United Way funded agency, you are participating in quarterly roundtable discussions, reporting in regularly and held accountable to the operations and projects that were listed in your grant application."

Payments to agencies are made quarterly.

Yancey also emphasized that although the name of the organization is the Victoria County United Way, it also serves DeWitt and Lavaca counties and the reach of the agencies that are funded include numerous other counties in the region.

"The services that are provided in Victoria County are far-reaching. Thousands of lives are impacted every year by every dollar you give to United Way," Yancey said.

More than 50,000 people are expected to be assisted by the programs United Way will fund in 2012, said executive director Clifford Grimes.

Grimes, who was hired three years ago, convinced the board to make the process project specific.

"We asked them to identify program goals and objectives and we held them accountable," said Grimes. "That was a big change. Instead of just saying, 'tell us what you need,' we now want to know by program exactly what they need for that program and how they are going to perform.

"We want to make sure we are making good sound decisions, because those decisions are going to literally change lives for the better. Our allocation volunteers have a tough job."

Yancey said the allocation process is solid and every dollar raised will have the greatest impact.

"The community needs to understand the due diligence that goes into awarding $626,000," she said.

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