News & Events

Jim Vojcsik: United Way of Martin County appreciates strong partnership with Children’s Services

Children’s Services Council is “backbone”

We are fortunate to live in a community where so many people are working together to help our neighbors. Of course, Martin County would not be the special place we all love and call home if it weren’t for the collaborative spirit and desire to provide a helping hand to those in need.

This year, one of United Way of Martin County’s best community partners, the Children’s Services Council of Martin County, is in jeopardy. In November, voters will decide whether to reauthorize the council’s ability to collect tax dollars to fund, oversee and plan programs that have a positive, measurable impact on children and families in our community.

I urge everyone to take the time to learn about the council and how it benefits our community, because this referendum is very important to the future of Martin County.

Representatives from the United Way, Children’s Services Council, Hobe Sound Community Chest, community foundations, private foundations, local governments and other funding organizations get together to share strategies for helping nonprofits in our area address gaps in services. This funders’ collaborative meets quarterly at the council offices and relies on data and research collected by council staff to help identify and meet ever-changing needs. This summer, we are partnering to support educational programs to improve reading scores for struggling students in kindergarten through third grade.

Helping reduce the “summer slide” isn’t the only issue we’ve partnered on for the benefit of our residents. In 2000, when we learned that the percentage of Martin County women was among the lowest in the state receiving prenatal care in their first trimester, we created a successful health initiative along with the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition, Martin County Health Department and Martin Health System to reverse that trend.

After data in 2000 showed our teens were abusing alcohol and illegal drugs at one of the highest rates in the state, United Way and the council — as community partners — helped to make substantial improvements in reducing youth substance abuse in Martin County,

Thanks to strategic funding by the Children’s Services Council, investments by United Way and other funders, the mobilization efforts of the Martin County Shared Services Network and successful prevention programs, we’ve seen those numbers come down — adding to Martin County’s safety and resulting in tax savings for years to come.

These successful initiatives did not just happen. They were made possible by the leadership and dedication of resources required to facilitate change through public, private and not-for-profit partnerships.

The council — which collects approximately $6 million in ad valorem taxes every year and leverages an additional $3.1 million — is the backbone organization that provides a stable source of funding for many nonprofit agencies serving Martin County children.

United Way works hard to raise $2.6 million in annual donations from individuals, employees, corporations and small businesses, but we never know one year to the next the state of charitable contributions. An economic downturn or natural disaster could create an unexpected shortfall in donations and impede our ability to respond to critical community needs. Having a dedicated source of funding through the Children’s Services Council provides the continuity to ensure vital services are available when they are needed most.

Since moving to Martin County in 1999, I have seen firsthand the benefits of the partnership between United Way and the Children’s Services Council. By working together, we can provide a big-picture perspective that will ensure the continued well-being of children and families in our community.

In turn, this partnership helps Martin County residents of all ages for years to come.

Jim Vojcsik is executive director of United Way of Martin County.