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Editorial: United Way campaign right to avoid setting round goal

Why won’t the United Way round up or round down its fundraising goal for the annual campaign?

It’s because issues of substance abuse, mental health and healthy lifestyle won’t be solved by round, stationary goals.

In a time when the United Way is thinking about the way it makes a difference through the community impact model, it’s right to also reconsider its fundraising goal. The organization’s annual campaign is taking a good step by increasing its goal in conjunction with calls to emergency services.

The campaign started last week with a goal of $1,525,963, increasing to $1,526,117 before the kickoff ended because of deaths from overdoses and calls for overdoses, mental health conditions and other, similar issues. Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell said it best when he noted that the community would call it an epidemic if hundreds of people were affected by one issue in a year.

“If it were mosquitoes, people would be on the city, county and state about getting rid of the mosquitoes,” said Parnell, the chair of this year’s United Way campaign. “If it was sickness, the flu, the community would be all over it. … Now that we know the number that impacts our very county, don’t you think this is epidemic proportions?”

Importantly, the campaign make an impact through a new model that will look to select start-up programs that focus on substance abuse, mental health, healthy lifestyle behaviors and basic needs, with a small cut in funding in the second year.

Why, for example, are parents left wondering where to turn when children suffer from mental health issues instead of having one, centralized resource for help and services, a clearinghouse?

A majority of people who use the Cabarrus Health Alliance’s syringe exchange come from Rowan County, the Post reported earlier this month. So, a local program seems like a good funding destination for funding from this year’s campaign, too.

Hopefully, the fundraising goal will change little, if any, each month. If not, we’ll know the problems of mental health and substance abuse are more severe than we thought, and the United Way’s 2018 needs assessment already made it clear they are the foremost issues in our community.

As Parnell said last week, “We have to get a handle on these events in our community.”

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