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LETTER: United Way responds to Auburn city manager

To the Editor:

United Way of Androscoggin County has a long history of investing in our community and supporting the health and human service needs of local residents, including the residents of Auburn.

As an organization we address the underlying root causes of our community’s most pressing problems from a variety of angles, including convening individuals, non-profit agencies, government, business and other partners to address issues. We generate approximately $1.7 million in revenue to support the communities’ initiatives, mainly from the generosity of corporate and individual donations and employees giving through workplace campaigns.

I was disappointed when I read the Weekly Review written by Auburn City Manager Glenn Aho that stated, “Allowing employees to gather for a single rally is too expensive and creates a loss of productivity.” (“Weekly Review,” Twin City TIMES, page 4, November 25, 2010)

This approach is shortsighted and misses the real impact to the residents of Auburn who Mr. Aho serves.

What would it cost Auburn residents if United Way and its many partner agencies could not invest the funds they now do for residents at large in need of services? How would the loss of these investments impact Auburn’s General Assistance program? If the City of Auburn had to pay for the services provided by local agencies, how much would that increase taxes?

Many organizations use the United Way campaign to improve workplace moral and productivity. Countless individuals want to give back to their local community and do so through the ease of payroll deduction that the United Way provides. Individuals often can make a more significant contribution with a little bit out of their pay weekly. A happy and fulfilled employee leads to a more productive employee.

Additionally, city employees should be knowledgeable of all of the services available so they can communicate resources to residents. They should also have the opportunity to invest individually through the city that they represent.

We are extremely thankful to the many organizations that conduct strong United Way campaigns, helping them to keep their philanthropic dollars local, as well as giving their employees the opportunity to learn about local services. Many municipalities run successful campaigns in Androscoggin County. Our largest municipality, the City of Lewiston, was recently recognized by the United Way’s most prestigious award, “The Spirit of The Androscoggin,” as city employees raised approximately $30,000 through their United Way campaign.

While I do agree that there is a cost associated with speaking to employees for 10 minutes annually about how important it is for all of us to support our community, I strongly believe that the real and tangible benefits outweigh the cost.

For the record, 4,971 Auburn residents were served with United Way funds last year.

Daniel A. D’Auteuil Jr.

Chairman of United Way Board of Directors

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