United Way to increase presence in Petersburg
President and CEO of United Way of Southeast Alaska, Wayne Stevens, is in Petersburg for the next several days to encourage businesses to take part in its Workplace Campaign.
“We’ve added Petersburg as one of our communities where we have an agency representation so we want to try and engage the community,” Stevens said.
The Workplace Campaign is a program that local businesses can implement. It gives employees the chance to donate a certain amount out of their paychecks each year.
“Philanthropy is not the amount you give,” Stevens said. “Philanthropy is the act of giving. There are 36,000 employees across Southeast Alaska. If we could get everyone to give a dollar a week we’ve got a million dollars.”
One of United Way’s partner agencies in Petersburg is REACH, a nonprofit that provides assistance to those with developmental disabilities.
Millie Ryan, REACH Executive Director, is also in town. Ryan said REACH has had an infant learning program in Petersburg for a long time but that was pretty much the extent of the services.
“What then happened was those kids that needed more went without,” Ryan said.
Services have been expanded and there are now 12 people who benefit from employment and other REACH programs in town.
Those who wish to make donations can choose to give directly to the United Way or one of its three focus areas, or directly to a partner agency like REACH.
Stevens said increasing literacy and graduation rates is an important goal in Southeast Alaska.
He also welcomed organizations in Petersburg that have their own projects or programs to look into becoming a United Way partner.
“Alaska has, per-capita, more non-profits than anywhere else in the country,” Stevens said.
Because many counties down south perform the role of social service agencies, Stevens said, it’s up to Alaskan communities to band together to take care each other.
Stevens and Ryan gave a presentation to the Rotary Club yesterday and will visit Petersburg businesses for the next few days.