United Way of Logan County
new administrator striving to increase awareness of local programs
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[August 07, 2017]
- In April of this year, Patti Becker took over as the administrator
at the United Way of Logan County office. Becker replaces Marla
Blair, who resigned to pursue other career interests. Recently,
Becker sat down to talk about the local United Way Chapter and
efforts that are being made to increase the visibility of the United
Way in Lincoln and Logan County.
As a longtime member of the United Way Board, Becker said the
transition into the administrative position was not all that
difficult. Having retired from a career at Eaton in Lincoln she was
familiar with the donation process through payroll deduction, which
helps her now as she works to increase support for the United Way
through that program and others.
Also, through being a board member, she said she already had a love
for the United Way program and a commitment to the United Way
Mission of “Education, Income, Health.” The mission is to help
children and youth achieve their full potential, help families
increase financial security, and work to ensure that the basic
health needs of the community are met.
Becker said that one of the more important things the United Way
does locally is lend financial support to local programs that
personify the United Way Mission.
There are routinely 15 local organizations that benefit from United
Those organizations are:
American Red Cross
Illinois Capital Area Chapter
Boy Scouts of America, the W.D. Boyce Council
Center for Youth and Family Solutions
Christian Child Care
Community Action Partnership of Central Illinois – Senior Nutrition
program and Logan-Mason Public Transportation program
Girls on the Run
Girl Scouts of Central Illinois
Lincoln Area YMCA
Lincoln Pastoral Counseling Services
Little Lambs Learning Center
Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center
Lincoln Center for Developmental Rehabilitation
Oasis Senior Center/Senior Citizens of Logan County
Salvation Army – Keest Center
Becker said that annually, these organizations submit an application
for United Way funding, and it is no light weight document. The
organizations submit their application with written information
about the services they are offering, their recent success stories,
and how that United Way funding is impacting the lives of Logan
Having been on the Board of Directors, Becker is familiar with all
these agencies, and believes in the work they are doing. She said
that each year, as part of the application process, the groups
appear before the board and talk about their work in Logan County.
Becker recalled one of the exceptional stories she’s heard came from
representatives of the CAPCIL Senior Nutrition program. What some
people may not realize is that the home delivery of meals is about
more than just making sure the elderly have nutrition meals. It’s
about socialization and giving the seniors someone to look forward
to seeing during the week. But it can also be about saving lives.
She said there have been stories recounted where a meal delivery
found a senior is distress and help was called and arrived on time.
These are the seniors who without CAPCIL, might have not been able
to obtain the attention they needed.
She went on to speak about an organization serving the other end of
the local population, the Girls on the Run. That program has been
growing in Logan County and now there are multiple groups being
sponsored and operating through the local elementary schools. While
it boasts running and physical exercise in its name, Girls on the
Run is about much more. For the young girls who participate it is
about physical activity, but it is also about building leadership
skills, increasing self-esteem and building strong character and
ethics that will take the girls into adulthood and help mold their
For Becker and her Board of Directors, the heart breaking part of
the local funding program is that the United Way is not able to fund
the organizations to the extent that is needed. Becker said over the
past few years, donations to the United Way of Logan County have
been on the decline. When those donations fall, then the board is
unable to fund the organizations to the degree it would like.
Becker said that working with the support of her board, she plans to
push for more donations to the United Way of Logan County. To do
this, she plans to increase visibility for the local agency through
a new website, a facebook page, local advertising, and talking more
about the agencies United Way serves each year.
Becker said the new website is in the works and will offer important
information about the Logan County chapter. It will also have a
donation tab, where folks can go in and make an online donation to
the United Way of Logan County.
Becker said she has been visiting local businesses and talking about
payroll deduction donations, and will continue to do that on an
ongoing basis. She said making payroll donations is really easy and
requires little more than signing up.
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One caution, Becker says, is for those where the
employer has head offices that are not local. When employees of
businesses such as Kroger and Wal-Mart sign up for payroll deduction
they need to specify that the donation goes to the United Way of
Becker said the Facebook page is up and running and
she posts something new almost every day. The page currently
includes announcements about upcoming events, commentary on local
programs served by United Way and also links to those organizations
either through their websites, blogs, or Facebook pages. Becker said
the goal of the Facebook page is to bring people to United Way and
increase their understanding that the agency is local and supports
There is also a little known program that United Way provides. A few
years ago, the organization saw that there was a need for a
centralized, easy to reach, referral service that would help point
families in the right direction when they were seeking help from
local organizations. United Way helped to build and implement the
Dial 211 project. It’s very easy. Pick up the phone and dial 2-1-1.
Early in the phone call there will be a prompt or two and you may
have to wait on the line until a resource specialist is available,
but the really sweet part about this program is that you can talk to
a real person who can help you through the sometimes complicated
process of where to go and who to contact to get the assistance you
The phone call is free and the confidential, so you can talk to the
resource specialist and get the help you need.
If making a call is not convenient, there is also a 211 website –
211.org. There one can enter their zip code or city and state and
look up referrals for local assistance. When you log onto the
website, you are told that the site may not be “secure” and if you
wish to speak to someone in a secure connection to make the phone
call instead. If you choose to stay on the website, you can access
information about a wide variety of programs offered in your
community, many of them the same one that are being managed with the
help of United Way of Logan County funding.
Free Children's Book Exchange
A new program that the United Way of Logan County
will be implementing this month is the free book exchange. The book
exchange events will take place during the Third Fridays Downtown
Lincoln events in August and September. The August Third Friday will
be held on August 18th.
Becker said that education is a big part of the United Way mission,
and reading is a very big part of youth learning and development.
Books can be expensive, and once read there are only a few that
become read again favorites. The rest may be stored away in a box or
filed away in a bookshelf. Those are the books that could go to
serve a greater purpose.
At the Third Friday events, kids and parents are encouraged to go
through their current book collections and choose books they would
like to donate to the exchange. Those books can be brought to the
United Way stand and given to the program. Children can choose new
books to take home and read later. Becker said she is accepting
donations and has on hand several books that will be taken to the
first event. Thanks to these donations, kids can begin right away
choosing new reading material to take home for later.
She also noted that folks do not have to donate books in order to
take books home. Any child who sees a book they would like to have
may have it, at no cost to their parents. She also noted that the
program is open to all. There are no restrictions or income
guidelines to be met.
In closing, Becker noted that United Way of Logan County is a very
important organization that has the well-being of the entire
community at heart.
If she were to drive home only a point or two about the United Way
of Logan County it would be to impress upon people that while United
Way is a huge organization, the money given in Logan County is
utilized in Logan County, and that the local organization has a very
big heart, and a strong desire to help improve the quality of life
for people in Logan County.
The United Way of Logan County offices are located at 120 South
McLean Street in the Logan County Farm Bureau building. You can
reach the local office by calling 217-735-4499 or by email at