Souris Valley United Way continues to make a difference

 The spirit of giving all year round

Souris Valley United Way continues to make a difference

 
November 17, 2014
By MARISSA HOWARD - Staff Writer (mhoward@minotdailynews.com) , Minot Daily News          
Souris Valley United Way is an agency that is in the spirit of giving all year round.
 
Formed in Minot in 1930 with three name changes since, United Way has committed to supporting the community by directing available resources to help those who have unmet needs through financial contributions. Health and wellness, shelter, food, education, companionship, self-worth, and independence are just some of the needs that Souris Valley United Way helps to fulfill.
 
Originally created in 1887 by a Denver priest, two ministers, and a rabbi who recognized the needs in their city and the action that was needed, United Way agencies are now located all over the United States and have raised billions of dollars for their communities and beyond.
 
Souris Valley United Way alone has grown from supporting five agencies to supporting 21 agencies providing more than 26 programs to the local community. Since 1948, they have raised more than $12.5 million that all go back toward a better and stronger community here in Minot, with a reach beyond that.
 
Patricia Smith, executive director of Souris Valley United Way, however, does not want to take the credit. "Without the people here and their generous donations, it would be difficult to give nonprofits the resources they need to continue their services," Smith said. Kathy Aas, the 2014 Campaign Chair for United Way, agrees. "Without the help of people here and our community partners, United Way could not do what they do. It just wouldn't work."
 
Smith and Aas both joined United Way for similar reasons. Aas served on the board of directors for 16 years and, because of this, was up close and personal to the continual and vital improvements that were made through Souris Valley United Way. She wanted to continue to help make even more differences happen and therefore became the campaign chair for this year. "It has always been important for me to give back to the community," Aas said. "This was an opportunity that I could not pass up."
 
Smith, who has been with United Way for six years, also saw the importance of helping her community. "I wanted to do something more meaningful than what I was doing, and United Way allowed that to happen," Smith said. Both enjoy what they are doing, and both love to see the multiple ways Souris Valley United Way changes the community for the better.
 
Every year, local agencies apply for partnership with Souris Valley United Way and undergo a specific set of steps in order for United Way to see whether they fit the guidelines as to just who they think is a suitable partner for the needs in the community. The agencies undergo extensive interviews in which their financials and goals are reviewed among other things. Souris Valley United Way has a group of 30 to 50 volunteers called the Community Building Committee that give the interviews, and Smith made sure to add that each interview is taken very seriously. There is one thing that all of the chosen partners have in common, though. "Each agency that we accept is a nonprofit," Smith said.
 
The chosen nonprofit agencies are given a portion of the funds raised during the annual United Way campaign, a year-long campaign with an extra push from September through early December. The campaign goal for this year is $880,000, which has more than doubled from the campaign goal just six years ago in 2008, $415,000. "As our community continues to grow, so does the need," Aas explained. "Our partner agencies continue to grow as well. Increasing the goal helps these agencies out and gives them more time and money to do their good work."
 
Souris Valley United Way currently has 21 partner agencies that help in the areas of school readiness and success, youth leadership, emergency assistance, financial stability, physical and emotional wellness, and nutrition. The Salvation Army, Boy Scouts of America, American Red Cross, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Village Family Service Center, YMCA, Minot Area Homeless Coalition, Minot Literacy Volunteers, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library are just some of the agencies that Souris Valley United Way has partnered with in order to make our community a better place for all ages.
 
While many of the donations come from businesses, both Smith and Aas underlined that the majority of the money comes from the people. "The people are so important so that our partner agencies and United Way can continue to do the work that they do." Smith said. Aas agreed and added, "The people in our community and the surrounding area are critical to the success of Souris Valley United Way. We can't thank them enough."
 
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