The Crow Wing County United Way wants to know what area residents think are the most pressing issues area communities face.
To get that information, it's distributing a survey and inviting Internet comments on the priorities of those the United Way serves.
United Way Executive Director Heidi Funk said her organization is partnering with the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce this year to get opinions from Crow Wing and southern Cass county residents.
Too often, Funk said in a news release, people think of the United Way as the ultimate middleman who shows up in the fall, asks for money and disappears until the following year. The story of how the agency makes a community impact throughout the year is never told, she said.
"All of us need to invest in programs and priorities that truly impact people's lives in measurable and definable ways," she said. "By focusing on a needs assessment and strategies, we can identify and address the priority issues in our community."
The survey is online at www.unitedwaynow.org and at www.explorebrainerdlakes.com. It also will be distributed through e-mails and through the Brainerd School District. Response to the survey will be sought until March 15.
Funk said online survey respondents are given the option of listing their e-mail addresses and are asked their places of employment in an effort to discourage any participants from attempting to skew the results.
Alumni of a chamber leadership course will review survey results in April. The United Way and chamber hope to identify community issues and allocate resources toward the most important issues facing the community.
The United Way will continue to fund basic services that are needed but also will focus on expending resources on particular problem areas in an attempt to achieve measurable results. Funk said earlier the bulk of the money raised will continue to fund the basic needs: prevention, crisis and development services.
Crow Wing and southern Cass county residents who would like to take part in a needs assessment survey may go online at www.unitedwaynow.org or at www.explorebrainerdlakes.com.
The survey also will be distributed through e-mails and through the Brainerd School District. Response to the survey will be sought until March 15.
Lisa Paxton, chamber chief executive officer, said in a statement that the community issues this survey will identify affect chamber members.
"This assessment will help us identify the issues that are most in need of repair and enable everyone to work together to solve the problem," she said.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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