United Way expects to serve 1,000 chicken barbecue dinners Friday

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 October 2020 at 7:36 pm

Some tickets available for drive-through takeout at fairgrounds

KNOWLESVILLE – United Way of Orleans County is preparing to end its current year on a high note, in spite of challenges presented by the Covid pandemic.

The Covid restrictions pretty much put a damper on any workplace campaigns, which account for a large share of United Way’s budget.

However, United Way is adapting new methods to cope with any shortfalls caused by this year’s pandemic.

For the first time United Way of Orleans County announced a chicken barbecue on Friday at the Orleans County Fairgrounds. Nearly 1,000 tickets have been sold and a limited number will be available from 4 to 7 p.m. The barbecue is drive-thru only and Dean Bellack, agency executive director, urges those who wish to buy tickets that day to arrive early.

Bellack’s vision to change how United Way is  viewed in the community has resulted in thousands of dollars in funding from agencies outside the county.

United Way has been instrumental in securing a Build Back Better grant to address WiiFi inadequacies in the county. A search has already begun for a consultant to address the digital divide in the county, in anticipation one will be hired by the end of month. United Health Care’s Blue Fund gave $10,000 for micro-grants which were distributed to small agencies.

Two rounds of funding totaling $55,000 were received from Eastman Savings and Loan, the majority of which went to Community Action to provide rental assistance. In addition, United Way was able to secure considerable FEMA funding to help with housing.

As a result of United Way of Orleans County’s initiatives, partnerships between charities, county government and private business is increasing. The ultimate goal is to hire a grant writer who would be available to any non-profit agency in the county.

Bellack said these efforts have resulted in United Way of Orleans County being in the best financial shape in several years. The 2021 fundraising goal will be announced after the barbecue.

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