Representatives from United Way spoke at the Chamber of Commerce meeting in Sitka on Wednesday (10-12-16). The national organization supports nonprofits across the country, by partnering with local businesses to give money and volunteers.

Warren Russell, the Chair Elect for United Way Southeast Alaska, is leading a campaign tour to raise money for the chapter. He said that, at a time when the state was reducing funding for non-profits, local support was even more important. Looking into the crowed, gathered over lunch at the Westmark Hotel, he said, “Look at the person to your left. Now look to the person to your right. Statistics show that in the course of our lifetime, one out of three people will use United Way Services. Think about that. 1 in 3. That’s huge! That’s why we’re doing the things that we’re doing. The other thing that’s really important is that 80% of our contributions stay local. They don’t go national. They stay right here in your own backyard.”

Partner agencies in Sitka who benefit from United Way includes the Boy and Girl Scout Clubs, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), Braveheart Volunteers, Southeast Alaska Independent Living, and Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services.

During United Way’s “Day of Caring” in May, Sitkans at four companies – North Rim Bank, GCI, Wells Fargo, and First National Bank Alaska – volunteered at some of those non-profits. North Rim spent that day cleaning up the SAFV shelter.

Director Vikki D’Amico was on sabbatical when that happened and thanked the representative from North Rim personally. “It was amazing. We can’t get to stuff. It’s just things we can’t do. We’re working at crisis [mode] and putting out fires out every day. Just to have a little bit of organization and less clutter liked you said meant so much. So thank you.”

At the end of the lunch, D’Amico accepted a $2000 check on behalf of SAFV through United Way’s Community Impact Grant.