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Local United Way merger with Chicago office to help bring wealth of resources to Elgin area
Volunteer Denise Maldonado reads to children in 2015 as part of a United Way of Elgin Reading Buddies program at Illinois Park Center for Early Learning. United Way of Elgin is merging with its counterpart in Chicago this summer.
Volunteer Denise Maldonado reads to children in 2015 as part of a United Way of Elgin Reading Buddies program at Illinois Park Center for Early Learning. United Way of Elgin is merging with its counterpart in Chicago this summer. (United Way of Elgin photo)
A merger set to be complete this summer between the United Way of Elgin and its counterpart in Chicago will result in increased dollars and streamlined services available to local people in need, officials said.
This is a good thing because Chicago has a wealth of resources that they can bring to our community, said Lynn Bosley, president of the Elgin United Way for the last 17 years who is set to retire June 30, the day the merger is complete.
Bosley said the Chicago office has a large staff and Elgin has just two employees.
Its just hard to do all of the things that need to be done to really grow and thrive in todays philanthropic environment, she said.
Bosley, who plans to retire after 17 years leading the local organization on June 30 the day the merger is complete said the deal has been in discussions since 2014.
We found what we thought was the best fit for us, and in the end, it turned out to be the last organization we talked to. Bosley said. The merger was approved in February.
She is excited to combine efforts with the larger Chicago staff and confident it will ignite the ability to do even more for their clientele, who number in the thousands and range in age from birth through senior citizens.
Through about 20 different agencies and 24 different programs, Elgin United Way serves the needs of residents who may be struggling in one way or another throughout the greater Elgin area including South Elgin, Hampshire, Burlington and Pingree Grove.
Volunteer Ana Monreal colors with children in 2015 as part of a United Way of Elgin Reading Buddies program at Illinois Park Center for Early Learning. The local United Way chapter will merge with a larger Chicago agency this summer.
Volunteer Ana Monreal colors with children in 2015 as part of a United Way of Elgin Reading Buddies program at Illinois Park Center for Early Learning. The local United Way chapter will merge with a larger Chicago agency this summer. (United Way of Elgin photo)
The focus, which Bosley said is perfectly aligned with the Chicago offices mission, is to provide basic safety net services, the necessities of life: food, shelter and safety. Each office also has a strong commitment to education, especially at the early stages, as well as health, financial stability and workforce development.
The merger with the Chicago office also means increasing opportunities to raise money, afford more funding and investments into the community. She anticipates the ability to engage in digital fundraising that is difficult for a two-person shop to manage.
As Bosley approaches her retirement, she reflected on what has been done during her tenure and what will continue to grow.
For example, she was part of several programs in and around Elgin focused on reaching at-risk children in the early pre-K years to establish a stronghold in education as opposed to stepping in at crisis moments.
About eight years ago we started to place a pretty significant emphasis on early childhood education and the recognition that learning begins at birth, she said, adding the focus today is more on prevention than intervention. Now the whole community is getting on board with and recognizing that it is too late if you start in middle school and high school.
We just dont want to continually focus on crisis intervention. You have to figure out, how are we going to solve our challenges in the community over the long hall. Education is the great equalizer.
Marcia McMahon, chief professional officer of the North/Northwest Region of United Way of Metro Chicago, said the merger will save dollars that will be put back into the community.
She said people from the Chicago branch have met with all the current agencies served by the Elgin office and a special meeting will be held in the coming months where agencies will learn about the new application cycle.
Change is always different, McMahon said. But they fund the same (programs) as we do, that is what is so attractive about the merger. We really line up very well.
McMahon said the Elgin agency knew they would survive after Bosleys retirement but they really wanted to thrive.
Amanda Marrazzo is a freelance reporter for the Courier-News.
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