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United Way director clarifies funding request

An initial public hearing on a proposed $10,012,443 budget for 2014-15 held Monday by South Boston Town Council drew one speaker, not exactly against the entire budget but for clarification of a previous funding request.

United Way of Halifax County Executive Director Jewell Medley referred to a previous newspaper article in clarifying her request for funding for a specific project undertaken by United Way. 

According to that article, United Way was asking for funds to allocate or contribute back to other non-profit organizations, according to Medley.

“The request for funds was for any amount that the council deemed fit up to $5,000,” said Medley.

A sample bag of toiletries was passed around to each council member, as well as a program flyer, brochure and detailed outline for a particular project, entitled, “A Fresh Start,” when she appeared before council at its April meeting, Medley explained.

“As the director of a charitable organization, it is very important my donors know we only requested funds for a specific community program, not for general funding or to support any other agencies that receive funds from our annual mini grant program,” Medley told council.

At council’s April work session, the finance committee recommended the town not fulfill a new funding request from the United Way.

 “We would not recommend it to council, the rationale being that it’s a new funding request,” Finance Committee Chairman Coleman Speece said during the work session.

“Funding the United Way is a bit of a stretch because we are funding organizations who are applying to the United Way for support as well.

“Whatever we give to United Way, we’re giving them money to redistribute somewhere else.”

Speece said Monday he was correctly quoted in the article.

“They didn’t quote everything I said, but what they did quote was correct,” Speece told Medley.

“My statement was in giving direct financial support to the United Way, it was a little different than other things we support in that the United Way solicits funds and then supports other organizations we support,” he said Speece.

“It was not in any way derogatory of the United Way or showing any lack of respect.”

Speece, a retired Burlington Industries executive, added he and his company always supported the United Way.

“I’m unaware of any governing body, county, state, or town who is giving direct financial support to United Way, many of them have fundraising campaigns of their own through their employees,” Speece said.

“I just felt it was an avenue we shouldn’t direct tax dollars through.”

Two members of council, Tina Wyatt Younger and Margaret Coleman, made comments in support of Medley.

Younger, a former United Way board member, is currently program director for Youth in Motion, a program geared to combat childhood obesity.

“We do represent the community, we represent the citizens in the community, and I can see where there are localities who do contribute to the United Way,” said Younger.

“I don’t know why we never have, and I guess that’s something we have to look into later.

“I’m not aware of why we don’t do that, we owe it to them and whatever happens to them, unfortunately.

“We’re not giving out vouchers or money, we’re giving out toothpaste, giving out toilet paper, something so simple.

“It’s not a social thing, it’s a crisis, circumstantial thing that can happen to any of us at any time.

“We owe it to them to be there for them any way that we can.”

Coleman asked council to be proactive on the issue.

“You have my apologies, because I wasn’t well-versed on everything that took place, I wasn’t here to hear your presentation,” Coleman said to Medley.

“That’s one thing I will share with my colleagues, that we’re here to represent and make sure everyone across the board, high, middle, those who are impoverished, those who are undereducated are represented fully on this council.”

“The budget is not set in stone, we have not voted on it,” Coleman noted.

“It is something we can go back and discuss...I appreciate you advocating for our citizens.”

The proposed budget contains no new or increased taxes. 

Revenues include general fund totals of $9,180,193, cemetery fund totals of $209,750, Washington-Coleman housing grant fund totals of $600,000 and joint drug task force totals of $22,500.