United Way taps reserves to support local charities

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When news got out that United Way's latest campaign fell millions of dollars short of projections, the agency's director, Jane McIntyre, says charities were surprised to learn they'd still be getting their money. Surprised and delighted.

"Yes, I think they were," McIntyre says. "I actually got a call from one of them , left a message on my voicemail, which I forwarded to all the staff to hear, because it was great news."

And the people that rely on those donations...they're feeling grateful too.

It means a lot to me, because I'll tell you what if this shelter didn't exist, a whole lot of us would be on the streets," says Keith Leveille.

Leveille can't imagine what would happen to him and many others if funding dried up at the Men's Shelter, and the score of other charities around town that United Way supports.

"Thank God we have a roof over our head. Thank God we have meals in our stomachs. And even though that's not a lot to most people, we thank God for that, because if we didn't have it...no telling where we'd be," Leveille says.

This year, the money United Way gave touched the lives of almost 400,000 people in our area.

"That's a huge number," McIntyre says. "As we understand it, than that would mean that's close to 30% of the 1.4 million in the Charlotte metro area."

But it wouldn't have happened if McIntyre and her directors hadn't pulled $2.4 million out of the agency's reserves.

"This money was actually set aside over a period of time to be used for this kind of rainy day. Well, it's pretty rainy," McIntyre says.

In all, United Way will give $16.5 million to nonprofits in the coming fiscal year. But now that they've taxed their savings, money cuts could come next year if the agency can't collect more donations.