Note: In an effort to highlight the prevention programs that are available in Mifflin County, Mifflin County Communities That Care (CTC) is offering a new series that will focus on one service provider each month. CTC offers this information with the purpose of strengthening our families and community.

I Never Knew….

The three most repeated words after someone has talked to a United Way volunteer, “I never knew United Way dollars did so much in the community.”

For 75 years, the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata has demonstrated a spirit of selfless service to the community. Established as the Mifflin County Community Fund in 1935 they raised about $41,000. In 1963 Juniata County came on board as a partner. Fast forward to 1974 where fund raising amounts approached $250,000 and a name change to the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata. Last year the 2010 campaign raised $530,885. “Civic pride is important in a community – a source of dignity and honor. It’s about the people and the way we care about one another – all through the years,” said Marie Mulvihill, Executive Director of the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata. During the next few months United Way will be sharing historical information culminating with a special event in the spring of 2011 to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Mulvihill encourages people to check out the United Way face book fan page for weekly historical fun facts.

So what do United Way dollars do in our community? Programs funded by United Way dollars are geared toward helping people, no matter their income level. A crisis can affect anyone at any time. Services are there for them. The United Way of Mifflin-Juniata funds 20 programs plus manages the Success By 6 initiative ($94,000 grant), the Summer Food Service Program ($27,000 grant), Day of Caring (2010 value to the community $59,000) and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (2009 – $117,000). For every $1 invested – United Way turns it into $1.28 by securing and managing these additional projects.

Did you know that 1 out of 10 two year olds already have cavities? It’s the most chronic children’s disease in the country. In response to a need for dental services for families without insurance and unable to pay for dental care for their children the Mifflin-Juniata Dental Clinic was formed in 2001 through the efforts of United Way and Lewistown Hospital. To date the clinic has served approximately 5,000 children, handicapped adults and pregnant women. In 2009 the Dental clinic modified their eligibility policy, hired an additional dentist and is accepting adults eligible for Medicaid. United Way dollars are used today to help subsidize care for those families who cannot afford it.

Success By 6, the early childhood initiative of United Way, recognizes the critical impact of poor dental care on children with evidence that children miss an estimated 51 million hours of school annually because of dental pain. Children with dental problems are typically distracted by their pain and are often unable to focus on learning. In response to this and in partnership with the Mifflin-Juniata Dental Clinic, Success By 6 did 55 dental presentations to 1,100 pre-school children. The children received a tooth brush, tooth paste and floss. This outreach project was funded by a grant through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning at the Department of Public Welfare and Department of Education.

Did you know that 216 children participate in activities at the Delauter Youth Center-free of charge and 352 children participate in activities at Lumina Center – free of charge. These centers value each and every youth. They accept the children where they are in life and strive to instill in them the values and equip them the tools they need to thrive in life. These centers allow youth to participate in free activities in a clean, drug-free, well supervised and nurturing atmosphere. These centers depend on United Way financial support.

700 people with disabilities from Mifflin and Juniata counties are active participants in all aspects of community life through the Mifflin-Juniata Special Needs Center’s Community Connections Program. No other provider of services in the two county area offers this level of support. “United Way funding sets us apart from many other community agencies,” said Beth Zong, Director of MJ Special Needs Center. “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to create opportunities to allow our friends with disabilities to have a normal, fulfilling everyday life.” Those opportunities include Training and Transition (TnT), Teen Club, Venture Club, after school programs for elementary school students, Summer Bridge program, year round organized recreational sports (bowling, T-ball, pool parties) and much more – all done because of United Way dollars.

460 new domestic violence victims are assisted annually by the Abuse Network. About 10-15% of these victims require emergency shelter services – at the 1 safe house – Hollister House. On an annual basis, law enforcement in the Mifflin-Juniata region respond to between 600 and 800 incidents. The Abuse Network also operates an emergency, 24 hour hotline. Without this resource, women and children would remain at a higher risk for serious injury and/or death by staying in their current situation. The Abuse Network staff also helps link women and children to vital community resources that many are eligible for. For instance, public housing, public assistance, medical assistance and advocacy services. In this case United Way dollars save lives.

“Tough economic times are not behind us yet, unemployment is still at historic levels, agencies people rely on for help are continuing to operate under pressure of increased volume and less government support, while the needs of those people seeking help are more serious and more complex. Your gift to United Way helps those who need it most in our community,” said Marie Mulvihill, Executive Director of United Way of Mifflin-Juniata.

You Can help by:

  1. Holding a workplace campaign – whether you have one employee, dozens, or hundreds. Workplace campaign can be fun, morale building activities that provide your employees with an easy and affordable way to join in supporting the community.
  2. Making a personal pledge to the 2011 United Way campaign
  3. Encouraging others to support the United Way

For more information regarding United Way of Mifflin-Juniata’s 2011 campaign, contact them at 717.248.9636 or visit mjunitedway.org