From WILL - News Local/State -

United Way Raises Nearly $3.5 Million

The United Way of Champaign County has a set a new fundraising record with its fiscal 2012 campaign. The agency set a goal of $3.3 million - and finished with a total of $3,486,000.

President and CEO Sue Grey said local dollars are becoming increasingly more important for local projects as state and federal dollars are more in question.

She points to success stories like the Frances Nelson Health Center for low-income residents, and helping merge two agencies that give shelter to women who are victims of domestic violence. 

Grey said the United Way will spend part of the summer determining how high to set 2013 financial goals.  She says staff is looking more long-term this time, developing a plan for the next five years:

“What do we feel our need is going to be?," she said.  "What do we know, historically, is requested of us from local non-profits?  What’s the initiative work that we’d like to either finish, or continue to pilot or work on outside of that program funding?”

She said the long-term goals for that funding will include finding emergency shelter for the homeless, and lining up the 2-1-1 service to connect those people with essential services.

Grey said that service has been 10 years in the making.

“There’s a call center actually - that we will be working with out of the Bloomington-Normal area that actually serves all of East Central Illinois, and actually a swatch –a big center section of Illinois," she said.

Illinois and Arkansas were the only states not providing physical and mental health resources, job training, and other programs through 2-1-1.

She said data for a system that will serve all of East Central Illinois will be finalized next month. 

Grey says she’s 'in awe' of how individuals and corporate leaders stepped up in the past year.