United Way, UCSC partner to lend a helping hand

Liz Evanovich wants $75,000.

That's the goal the community relations coordinator in the Office of Government & Community Relations has set for this year's campus United Way Campaign, which runs November 1-16. Informational materials on the campaign, with the theme "Our Community United--Local Dollars, Local Solutions," have already arrived in mailboxes for the campus's 4,100 employees.

United Way of Santa Cruz County gives out about $1.3 million a year to local health and human service agency programs that help children, the elderly, the disabled, and families in crisis, said Martin Chemers, professor of psychology and president of the United Way board of trustees.

"This is essentially the infrastructure for the community when times get bad," said Chemers, who was acting chancellor in 2004-2005 and also recently had a research award established in his name. "Over the years, the government has played less of a role when people need it. More and more, nonprofits are the ones who do it."

In last year's campaign, UCSC raised $64,924, with a campus participation rate of 9.3 percent, according to Evanovich. Participation rates have been declining over the past several years, however, she said. In 2004, the rate was 14.5 percent. Evanovich's $75,000 goal would equal a participation rate of 15 percent, she estimated.

This year, United Way and Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties are working together on the "Above & Beyond" campaign. UCSC employees who donate more to United Way than they did last year will have the overage donated to Second Harvest for expansion and improvements to the food bank's facility. Second Harvest sponsors will match those contributions dollar for dollar.

Also, if employees choose to donate through payroll deduction this year, their name will be entered into a raffle for two roundtrip tickets from JetBlue Airways.

For information about United Way, visit its web site.