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After the United Way controversy, local branch took action


No doubt you were concerned when you read or heard about allegations regarding William Aramony, former president of United Way of America (UWA), in February. You were concerned about allegations involving Mr. Aramony's salary, travel, out-of-town accommodations, his establishment spin-off corporations, and controversy about employment practices at the United Way. So were the staff and volunteers of United Way of Central Maryland -- our local United Way.

The UWCM's 37-member volunteer Board of Directors was so concerned by the allegations that it acted quickly and decisively to reduce dues payments to UWA, its Virginia-based trade organization, by 10 percent. This cut into what had already been a small dues payment of less than one percent of campaign funds. The UWCM also instituted a month-by-month review of UWA's financial records and management restructuring. In short, the UWCM acted in our best interest to make UWCM's staff and volunteers.

Local stewardship of charitable giving has always been a strength of UWCM, which allocates nearly 87 cents of every dollar it collects from its annual campaign to community service agencies in the region. These agencies provide more than 300 critically needed services that address issues such as illiteracy, substance abuse, care for the elderly and disabled, hunger, homelessness, child day care, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Our local United Way never let the controversy involving Mr. Aramony interfere with its ongoing efforts to make human-care services in Cental Maryland accessible to the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in need of them. In fact, 77 UWCM volunteers this year allocated $10.7 million to support 56 community service agencies in the region -- agencies like the Boy Scouts, House of Ruth, the Salvation Army, Family and Childrens Services of Central Maryland, Meals on Wheels, Parents Anonymous, Action for the Homeless, the League for the Handicapped and many others located in neighborhoods where you live and work. This United Way support is invaluable to these agencies, especially in light of today's limited government social spending.

The UWCM is our grass-root, volunteer-driven movement to match resources to human care needs in Central Maryland. Make no mistake about it: the UWCM is working for all of us.

Please support our local United Way's efforts to improve the quality of life in Central Maryland during this year's fall campaign. If you want to start a United Way campaign at your company or community organization, or if you want more information about the work of UWCM, please call (410) 547-800, Ext. 207.

Mel Tansill is director of media and community relations for the United Way of Central Maryland.

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