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Letter: United Way’s new model must benefit all citizens

I am puzzled and disappointed with some of the grant decisions provided by United Way funding for the next two years. I realize that change is inevitable, but I am somewhat mystified by the recent Rowan County needs assessment and the particular emphasis on opioid abuse, rather than our overall substance abuse problems.

It is really disheartening to see what appears to be no repercussions for individuals who have proven to be chronically repeat abusers although numerous efforts have been made to help them overcome their addiction. I certainly understand that many addicts become hooked as a result of accidents and illnesses and many lives have been innocently changed as a result of seeking relief from pain, anxiety and sleeplessness, but there is also a segment of our population who simply want to “get high” or avoid their responsibility to society.

I have been actively involved as a volunteer with Rowan Vocational Opportunities, Inc., where there are individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as some with mental illness due to no fault of their own. For more than 50 years it has been a major entity in training, employing and providing life skills for some of the most fragile and vulnerable citizens in our community.

Rowan Vocational Opportunities has received funding from the United Way for many years. Now, suddenly, the funding has been cut completely.

Do citizens of Rowan County understand how the sudden lack of funding will impact the lives of adults with special needs? These adults within our community did not choose this type of life to live, and they deserve funding to help meet their needs in order to continue to have day support services, transportation and affordable housing.

What will happen to these citizens now? Did the United Way consider this when making this drastic change?

I truly hope that the United Way’s new funding model will present opportunities for our community to flourish and benefit all of our citizens.

Sharon Livengood




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