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United Way of Hastings sets 2005-06 goal at $300,000

When the United Way of Hastings Board of Directors set its 2005-2006 goal, the biggest factor was an ongoing need to reach out to others in the community.

With that in mind, the Board of Directors set this year's goal at $300,000, up $75,000 from the 2004-2005 goal. That goal was met.

"The need is there," said Tara Donohue Weiss, United Way of Hastings executive director. "We'll continue to provide that safety net."

Still, the United Way of Hastings is actively involved in the other parts of its reason for being in Hastings.

"We're looking at the root, cause and need so we can avoid bigger social services, a bigger safety net," Donohue Weiss said. "Part of our mission is to have more of our energy engaged in looking in these areas."

One area is the subject of poverty in Hastings, particularly as it relates to the increased usage at the emergency food shelf at Hastings Family Service, one of the United Way of Hastings beneficiaries.

"One of the areas in our mission is to provide education for the community. In this case, it's about poverty as it relates to the food shelf," Donohue Weiss said. "The usage has continued to show an increase each year, but not to the extent that it's occurring now. Why is this occurring now? That's part of the education."

Another issue that has been discussed over the years in Hastings has been the need for affordable housing. Donohue Weiss said the United Way of Hastings is in the early stages of talking to different agencies about presenting some classes for potential homebuyers.

Plus, various area agencies, including the Hastings Area Senior Center, Hastings Family Service, DARTS and ProAct, are discussing how to meet unmet transportation needs in Hastings.

Last year, the United Way of Hastings, working with Milliren Family Dentistry in Hastings, participated in the "Give Kids a Smile" program, in which dentists provided children with free exams. Donohue Weiss hopes the program will continue this year.

The board of directors will continue to emphasize that the money raised in the United Way of Hastings campaign stays in the community, she said.

" As part of the workplace campaign, we emphasize that the participants must designate that the funds are for the Hastings campaign, even though they live here," she said. "It doesn't automatically come here. A lot people don't know that they can designate the funds from the payroll deduction for the Hastings campaign."

This year's campaign kickoff will be held before the start of the Hastings/Roseville football game Friday, Sept. 9, at McNamara Stadium at Todd Field. Members of the United Way of Hastings Board of Directors will distribute information about this year's campaign and give blue-and-gold pompoms to those attending the game. The promotion is sponsored by tenants of Central Commons, the office complex at 925 Highway 55.

The United Way of Hastings supports the following programs: American Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Children's Home Society and Family Service, Community Action Council -- Lewis House, Courage Center, DARTS, Girl Scouts, Hastings Area Senior Center, Independent School District 200 Area Learning Center, Special Services, Community Education, Adult Basic Education, Early Childhood Family Education -- Hastings Family Service, Lifetrack Resources, Lifeworks Services Inc., ProAct, Dakota County Youth Teaching Youth, Hastings Area YMCA, Hastings Area Senior Center computer classes, Hastings Special Olympics Sharks, Youth First, Oasis program at Hastings Middle School, and Riverbend Dance Arts.

This year's members of the United Way Board of Directors are Ted Amundson, Ken Augustine, Dan Hausman, Mary Jones, Terry Lee, Kris Muller, the Rev. James Perkl, Al Ploeger, Karen Rushton, Dorothy Sandahl, Bob Sellars, Dave Welshons and Mike Wise.

For more information about this year's campaign, call 438-3337.