Published Date Written by Gail OberLACONIA — Representatives from Manchester-based Granite United Way — the not-for-profit agency that recently absorbed Lakes Region United Way via merger — said yesterday that by becoming one of the top 100 United Ways in the country, the agency should be able to attract more big donors to benefit local agencies.
At the same time, said Mark Primeau who was the chair of Lakes Region United Way but is now on the board of directors and the Executive Committee for Granite United Way, all of the money raised locally will continue to be spent locally.
"People want choice and control over their local charity dollars," said Primeau, adding the the by-laws of Granite United Way commit that focus on the Lakes Region.
In July of 2010, the former United Ways known as Heritage United Way, United Way of Merrimack County, Upper Valley United Way and the North County United Way joined to form Granite United Way. On February 1 the former United Way of Northern New Hampshire became part of the same organization.
Last year, the Lakes Region United Way merged with Whole Family Resource Center in Plymouth and acquired the building that houses a dozen non-profit groups and this month the Lakes Region joined Granite United Way.
Granite United Way now controls 80 percent of the United Ways in New Hampshire.
Former resident of Lakes Region United Way and now the senior vice president of Community Impact for Granite United Way, Jack Terrill, said he will stay in Laconia. Although the current headquarters building at 95 Water Street is for sale, he said he is not concerned with finding office space should the building sell.
Terrill said by joining with Granite United Way, he will have more time to spend on program development and fund raising than before, when at least 15 percent of his time was spent on administrative duties.
In addition, Alan Robichaud, the United Way community development director for Belknap County, will be working from the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce building, where he shares space with Carmen Lorenz of the Belknap Economic Development Council and Karmen Gifford of the chamber.
When asked, Primeau said yesterday that he expects people in the Lakes Region will continue to support Granite United Way. "If anything, we'll be more effective," he said.
Primeau, who is president and Laconia-based Bank of New Hampshire, said the Lakes Region United Way operating budget for 2012 was $1.2- million. By adding that to the $8 million operating budget of Granite United Way, he and President and CEO of Granite United Way Patrick Tufts said they expect to raise and spend $10 million in 2013.
Tufts said that by combining into one bigger agency, Granite United Way becomes more attractive to larger foundations with regional goals.
As examples he said Granite was recently awarded a $75,000 grant from Citizens Bank Foundation and a second $100,000 grant from a non-profit foundation that will be spent solely on literacy for children.
Primeau said that the big foundations like to donate to bigger organizations like Granite United Way whereas when there were 10 or 11 United Ways in New Hampshire alone, it was much harder to get the attention of the bigger foundations.
All totaled, he said the Lakes Region portion of Granite United Way would have 6 full-time and one part-time employee. Granite United Way has 43 full-time positions.
Tufts also said Lakes Region United Way usually made three-year commitments to the agencies it funded and the Granite United Way will honor those three-year commitments.
"We are excited," said Primeau. "We'll have a more vibrant and active United Way."