By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Rich Grace, chair of the 2013 United Way drive, made it official.
“We’ll reach our milestone 2013 goal of $2 million,” the Mayo Clinic Health System executive said at a news conference Thursday.
Grace noted that Mankato’s United Way continues to be in the top 2 percent in the nation for similar size United Ways when it comes to the amount of money raised.
Laura Bowman, Greater Mankato United Way director, said the funds will be distributed to 40 agencies and more than 60 programs.
“One in three people in our area are impacted by our programs,” Bowman said.
Donations came from 8,000 individuals and 200 corporations, including 28 new corporate pledges and 70 corporations that increased their pledges from a year earlier.
The United Way is increasing its funding to six agencies this year: Open Door Health Center, FOCP Backpack food program, VINE volunteer caregiving, YWCA Walking in Two Worlds, Gillette Children’s mobile clinic and Children’s Weekend Food Program in St. Peter.
Sarah Cruz, director of Open Door Health Center, said the funding from United Way goes to make real improvements to people’s lives.
She recounted the experience of one dental patient who came to the clinic after Christmas. The man’s cheek was swollen and painful and the dentist told him his tooth needed to be extracted.
“He looked down and shook his head and said he couldn’t,” Cruz said.
The patient also rejected a visit to the ER and going on antibiotics.
As it turned out, he delayed coming in for weeks because after paying bills and buying a few presents for his family, he had no money for dental work.
After telling him about the clinic’s sliding-fee payments and ability to pay over time, the man had the tooth pulled and was successfully treated.
“This is what we do. This is the impact we make on the community,” Cruz said.