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Red Cross loses United Way funding
October 27, 2011 Jerry Purvis   

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Gering Citizen file photo Red Cross volunteer Wayne Ferguson closes the doors of the emergency response vehicle outside the Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross offices in Scottsbluff last March. Ferguson of Scottsbluf

Effective Nov. 1, the United Way of Western Nebraska will no longer fund the Greater Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The decision was made after the American Red Cross restructured many of its chapters in order to cut costs. The local agency, although it retains the “chapter” name, now receives its funding from the regional headquarters.

Since it was first chartered in 1917, the local chapter has been self-funded in order to best meet the needs of the local communities it serves.

United Way director Steph Black said the board of directors is “committed to fulfilling their promise that donations will remain in our area to help local agencies and provide services to communities in western Nebraska.”

Rick Tuggle, board chairman of the Panhandle chapter of the Red Cross, said he totally understood United Way’s decision. “We reported to them our board, even in an advisory capacity, has no input into how funding occurs or is spent in the Panhandle area.” Tuggle said their new budget wasn’t made available to them by regional headquarters, and the first time they saw the new budget was after a request from the United Way.

“The local United Way is locally funded and use their dollars locally,” Tuggle said. “We can no longer guarantee their funding will be used here, and that’s disappointing.”

Tuggle said despite the loss of funding from United Way, the mission of the local Red Cross chapter remains the same, to help communities and individuals in times of disaster.

“We may be a chapter in name only, but we’ll continue to provide services under this restructured plan,” Tuggle said. “It was something that Red Cross had to do, and this is the method they chose. Time will tell how this works out for the recipients of the services.”

The Greater Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross was scheduled to receive $20,000 in United Way funding for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. So far, about $6,400 had already been paid out.
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