NEW ORLEANS -- United Way Chief Operating Officer Michael Williamson found it tough to see the young clients at the Dryades YMCA, because he had just learned the agency's critical city-wide fundraising campaign had fallen far short of its $14 million goal.
"We're currently sitting at $13,340,000, so that is, what, about $660,000 off of our $14 million community campaign goal," said Williamson. It was frightening news to Dryades Y president Doug Evans, because his agency receives 15 to 20 percent of its funding from United Way.
"It's a devastating thought to know that United Way will not be able to fund the kinds of services that are so desperately needed in this community," said Evans.
The Dryades Y uses United Way funds in the early childhood education and after school care programs. Tameyka Powell's five children are in those programs, doing better in school while the single mom is taking adult education classes she hopes will improve her career.
"It's a scary thought knowing that at one point all this could be taken away from these kids," said Powell. "It also helps that it keeps them off the street."
But a nearly $700,000 shortage could mean cuts to programs affecting nearly 100 programs serving 90,000 residents in seven parishes.
"There could be across the board reductions in funding," said Williamson.
"When I think about the 350 young people that come to our doors after school, potentially they could be out on the street, not having a safe place to go" said Evans.
"Without the tutoring programs, what are we supposed to do?" worried Dryades Y client Anyx Byrd.
You can see how worried they are at the United Way and the Dryades Y. So even though the campaign has ended, they're still hoping people will contribute, because the potential cuts otherwise are more than anyone wants to think about.
"Please donate to the YMCA because I do not want the programs to be shut down, because it is really helping the students, and the kids here, and I don't want everybody else in the school to turn out like others have, in jail or dead," said Dryades Y Client Ricky Jones.
To donate to the United Way, click here.