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FRIDAY FOCUS - United Way of Calvert County

As stated as one of United Way of Calvert County’s biggest challenges, explaining “What does United Way do?” is tricky because they truly do so much for the community! Partnering with numerous local organizations to address specific needs in the community is just one of the many ways they contribute to building the community. Have you ever looked at other non-profit websites and seen the United Way logo on it? That’s because United Way is always there to lend a hand. In this week’s Friday Focus we spoke to Anjelica Eitel, Director of Community Impact to learn more about United Way of Calvert County and their upcoming Southern Maryland Balloon Festival!
 
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
United Way of Calvert County's (UWCC) mission is to engage the community in making a meaningful difference to improve lives. UWCC is an independent, separately incorporated organization governed by local volunteers who serve only Calvert County. UWCC began by supporting six agencies and now serves 33 agencies through our Community Impact and Basic Needs grant partnerships. UWCC has evolved from a fundraising organization into a community building partner, focusing on four vital impact areas: Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Human Needs.
 
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
When you’ve been around as long as we have, you have a handful of favorite moments. One of UWCC’s community building functions that may be lesser known is how we have helped to incorporate several nonprofit organizations when their services were most needed in our area. Whether it was Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maryland to provide more quality activities for children, HIPPY/Healthy Families to help parents be the best first teachers to their preschoolers that they can be, Safe Nights of Calvert County to provide safe and sober shelter during winter months for our local homeless population, or Community Ministry to respond to a sudden lack in homeless prevention services, the development of each of these programs improved lives in Calvert County and each will always hold a special place in our heart.
 
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Answering the question, “What does United Way do?” While we’re fortunate to have fairly widespread name recognition, most people don’t know exactly how a local United Way helps their community. Simply put, we use community needs assessments to identify local issues. Then we provide grant funding and program support to organizations doing work in Calvert County to solve those problems.
 
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
There most certainly is! We are so excited to be bringing back the Southern Maryland Balloon Festival this summer! Last year was the first time our area ever had a hot air balloon festival and we were able to raise about $50,000 to support our Community Impact & Basic Needs Funds. This year’s festival will be held on July 14th at Jefferson Patterson Park and features live music, food and artisan vendors, an expanded KIDZONE, Junior Balloonist STEM Demonstration, walkabout balloon, balloon glow, fireworks display, tethered balloon rides and so much more. We have a great community on Facebook and have been able to get the word out and share additional details there. Tickets are available now and will only be sold online this year at somdballoonfest.org.
 
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
We’re always happy to meet with groups or individuals and share more about the programs that UWCC is supporting in the community. Over the past 30+ years, we’ve made great strides in improving lives but can’t do it without the help of our donors, advocates and volunteers. Donations collected online, through payroll deduction and at special events help to ensure that UWCC can continue to provide grant funding to address local issues. For those who are passionate about a certain topic, UWCC holds quarterly Impact Councils in the areas of Health, Financial Stability and Education. We also have a variety of committees that focus on Community Impact, Resource Development and more. To keep up to date on volunteer needs in the community, the Volunteers United Facebook group is a great resource, as well. To learn more, readers can contact Anjelica Eitel, UWCC Director of Community Impact, at (410) 535-2000 or impact@unitedwaycalvert.org.