SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Making a difference in our community

Maureen Wendt

As the year nears the end and we celebrate the holidays, I wish each of you a joyous and healthy holiday and a happy new year. And, on behalf of The Dale Association and all charitable organizations in our community, I thank you for your kindness and seemingly endless generosity this past year. The end of the year is a good time to look back and reflect on those things we are thankful for.

I'd like to say thank you to all of the people who have donated time, talent, money, and/or items that support The Dale Association's fundraising efforts. That fundraising helps pay for the things we do, and therefore helps us fulfill our mission in this community.

Our mission statement is: "To provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties that enhance their health and wellness and empower them to strengthen bridges to their communities."

It serves as a reminder of the reason The Dale Association exists in this community and, therefore, the reason we do the things we do. It may be supporting older individuals with our senior services. It may be assisting seriously and persistently mentally ill adults achieve mental wellness and to stabilize their emotions. It may be enriching the lives of people through our educational classes and volunteering programs. Or it may be supporting caregivers by providing resources that help them be better caregivers. Or assisting older adults with vision and/or hearing impairments to maintain their independence.

Whatever the service, all of us at The Dale Association focus on believing each person has value, and we hope to enhance their potential to live life to the fullest.

Regardless what your charity of choice is, it is probably their mission and what they do that you believe in. If there are special charities and organizations you like to support financially, odds are pretty good that you probably made donations to those special causes during the holiday season to show your support for the work they do. That's a great thing.

Unfortunately, charities report that donations tend to dry up after that holiday bump while the need for financial support continues all year long. Larger charities most certainly have a budget for marketing to raise awareness and create other giving opportunities during the off-peak giving season. But smaller charities simply don't have the budget or manpower that larger organizations have.

You may want to call or email the smaller, local charities to ask what is currently needed whenever you have a little extra money to pass along. They may want in-kind donations of supplies, or they may prefer cash. They may also be in desperate need of volunteers. We may think we know what's urgently needed, but the only way to be sure is to ask.

If you have a budget for charitable donations, instead of saving it all up for one large, lump-sum donation during the holidays, break it up throughout the year. Donate monthly or even quarterly to ensure that the charity has cash flowing in all year long.

If you usually support large charities, look for smaller, local organizations that do similar work within your community, and consider sharing some of the money you have earmarked for a larger charity with them. You may be able to link with smaller, community-based organizations in need of your help.

Almost certainly, I can speak for all local charitable organizations when I say that we are so grateful for the generosity of this community, our community, when it comes to delivering each of our missions. All fundraising activities support programs of charities and, as I said above, it is what is accomplished with the money and donation of time that really defines each of our purposes.

Fundraising is about more than the money — it's about the results accomplished by a charity's use of the money. It is through donors and volunteer supporters and what they give that enables us to make a difference. Fundraising is at its best when we can match our need for donations with your desire to support organizations that have made a difference in your life or the lives of family and friends. Many non-profit charitable organizations all across the nation rely more and more on fundraising as a means to support their mission and The Dale Association is no different.

This past year, many of you supported Dale Association fundraising efforts by making a gift to the annual giving campaign, by pledging at our Dale Hearts and Caring People fund, through general donations, by attending events, by becoming a sponsor, or by making a charitable gift through your estate planning. The money raised helps us sustain our mission in this community. To all of you: Thank you! And thank you on behalf of all the charities you support all year long.

Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a non-profit organization that provides senior, mental health, in-home care, caregiver support services and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 716-433-1937 or visit www.daleassociation.com .

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