Joe Gentry speaks to Lions Club

The Jan. 14 Alpena Lions Club program chair, Florence Stibitz, invited United Way Executive Director Joe Gentry to speak to the group.

The United Way of Northeast Michigan “improves people’s lives by uniting caring people and mobilizing resources that empower individuals and strengthen communities,” Gentry said. “United Way is reaching its goals by accelerating solutions in the following areas: education, health and basic human needs.”

Funds are raised throughout the year. Some of the events and initiatives that take place are the Fourth of July run, the Heroes Club, payroll deduction donations and Giving Tuesday.

“In April and September each year, nonprofit organizations are invited to submit applications for mini grant funding to be used to meet community needs in at least one of four strategic areas,” Gentry explained.

A Citizen Review Committee will hear a 30-minute presentation from the applicants and then determine if the requests meet the requirements for donation.

The biggest project for 2020 is the 2020 Census. The census is extremely important, Gentry said.

“The more people counted means more money and power for Michigan residents at home and in Washington,” he stated.

For every person not counted in Northeast Michigan, we stand to lose $1,800 per person per year of federal funding to support programs that use census data such as: rebuilding roads, highways, and bridges; Title I and Special Education; Foster Care and Child Care; Section 8 Vouchers; K-12 Education and Head Start, among others. Lower census counts also mean Michigan could lose another Congressional seat and a reduction in the number of electoral votes.

Federal law protects your census responses. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. The Census Bureau will not share your information with any law enforcement agencies, immigration enforcement agencies, or allow it to be used to determine your eligibility for government benefits.

In 2020, you can complete your census online, by phone or by mail. Be sure to complete the census and be counted.

To learn more about the Alpena Lions or to attend a lunch, email Audra Smith at smith.alpena.lions@gmail.com.