Terry Robinson

Terry Robinson, executive director of United Way Comal County. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

Between 31 different nonprofits across the county, United Way of Comal County is stretching its donors dollars to our neighbors in need. 

Striving to help nonprofits as they aid children, families and other organizations, UWCC is all about making giving back to those closest to us easier, said Terry Robinson, executive director of UWCC.

“United Way is a great place for people who want to give back but aren’t sure of an exact place to start,” Robinson said. “It can be very overwhelming, when you have a county with hundreds of nonprofits, and folks are not sure where they want to put (their dollars) but they want it do the most good. That’s what United Way is, we’re a solution for people who want to give back and want to ensure it’s going to be monitored and that it’s going to go to the right entities.”

The history

UWCC was started 60 years ago by the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce in 1959 as the Comal Community Fund, Robinson said.

“Based on IRS records I can find, we believe it joined the United Way family in 1991 and one thing that I always try to remind people is United Way of Comal County is its own entity,” Robinson said. “We in Comal County get to decide how we’re going to spend those funds that are going to be raised.”

Community volunteers get together, just as they have since 1959, and decide how to raise funds as well as what to do with it.

“The board and our volunteers decide, but we get so many applications we need additional community volunteers,” Robinson said. “We have about 26 right now and we typically need about 40 people.”

Volunteers are usually referred by a fellow volunteer or board member, or are recruited as volunteers for being active donors to UWCC.

“The wonderful thing is they then turn around and be our messenger to show how serious we take this whole process, the review of the applications, the interviews with all of the agencies, the on-site visits, touring facilities, and if we’re allowed even interviewing clients,” Robinson said.

Why give to UWCC?

United Way of Comal County is a great place for people to go who want to give back but aren’t sure of an exact place, Robinson said.

“I tell people if you have a passion for cats and dogs, give to the humane society. If you want to give to crisis intervention, give to the crisis center, but if you’re not sure and you want to give back to the community, that’s what Untied Way is,” Robinson said. “We monitor the progress (of a nonprofit program), we monitor that and we work with them to help them find solutions to get them on track or keep them on track.”

Nonprofits on UWCC’s partnership list include Any Baby Can, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, Boy Scouts of America, the Bulverde Food Pantry, CASA, Chosen, CIS, the Crisis Center of Comal County, Family Promise, Girl Scouts of America, Hope Hospice, St. Jude’s, The Salvation Army and many more. 

UWCC is flexible to change, as more nonprofits come to the area, Robinson added. Because the funds are allocated annually, the volunteers get to decide what the biggest needs are now and divvy funds up appropriately. 

“We are also a voice to make sure nonprofits are working all together,” she said. “There are clients out there that need the help of the food bank, but they also might need more educational services so we ask them to engage communities in schools.”

United Way of Comal County’s annual campaign goal is $1 million — a goal Robinson said she believes is very possible in the growing county. 

“(The 2018 campaign pledge was for) $980,000, and from that the board made a conservative choice last year of $700,000 in grants, so that’s how much they gave out based on that campaign. And that was decided in early May,” Robinson said. “Right now we’re in the 2019 campaign.”

How to give

Giving to the UWCC is as easy as visiting https://uwcomal.org/ or calling 830-620-7760, Robinson said.

“Folks can also help encourage their employers to allow a workplace giving campaign if they don’t already have one, or they can come to Gruene Music and Wine Fest,” Robinson said. 

All profits raised from Gruene Music and Wine Fest go to United Way of Comal County. While this year’s total from October’s festival is still being tallied, the 2018 Gruene Music and Wine Fest raised over $150,000 for UWCC.

“The guitars and the silent auction this year’s on (that) Friday night made over $70,000 so that’s huge right there,” Robinson said. “That combined with the ticket and event funds will all be part of the reveal (later on).”

A workplace giving campaign has employers take out a certain amount from each paycheck to be given to the UWCC, Robinson explained.

“The workplace giving campaign is one of the easiest ways to give — if you have an employer that allows you to do this, you will have an opportunity to say, ‘I want $5 a paycheck to go to United Way,’ … The employer collects the funds through the year, and then they send us a check for everything they’ve collected,” Robinson said.

For anyone running on a calendar year, now would be a great time to have this discussion with their office, Robinson said.

“Now is about the time they can start informing their employees about the opportunity to give locally, and the employer will have a form they fill out and their payroll department process it and it’s basically a pledge that, ‘In 2020 I want $5 from every paycheck to go to United Way of Comal County,’” Robinson said.

Even New Braunfelsers who work in San Antonio can talk to their employer about funds going to the UWCC, Robinson said. They just need to be sure to specify to their employer they want the funds to go to UWCC and not United Way - San Antonio. 

“So give, give back, give to United Way,” Robinson said.

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