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United Way Gives Big In Laurel, Prince George's

Non-profits from across the county were awarded nearly $220,000 in United Way grants including the Laurel Boys and Girls Club.

The United Way of the National Capital Area and the Human Services Coalition gathered yesterday in Hyattsville to celebrate the awarding of nearly $220,000 in grant money to more than 40 Prince George's County non-profit organizations—including the.

Representatives from the United Way as well as grant recipients said that the money is vitally important to maintaining critical services provided to some of the county's most vulnerable populations. 

"There are a lot more requests for the money than there is money available," said regional United Way president Bill Hanbury in an interview. "These grants are in the range of $5,000 to $15,000 and they are unbelievably important to programs centered around really basic needs, programs that are keeping people off the street and keeping people fed."

At the event, representatives from United Way presented county officials with a large novelty check representing the sum of the 52 grants awarded to 46 organizations as part of the United Way Workplace Giving program. 

The Laurel Boys and Girls Club will be among the organizations awarded a $12,000 grants.

The Human Services Coalition of Prince George's County, which hosted the event at its monthly luncheon yesterday at Hyattsville's municipal building, had 18 of its member organizations receive grant funding from the United Way. 

One of those organizations was Upper Marlboro-based Melwood, which provides job training and employment opportunities to more than 24,000 people with developmental disabilities in the region. This year they received a $13,000 grant to continue Melwood's horticultural therapy program which teaches its clients motor skills and builds confidence. 

"All philanthropy that Melwood gets is important," said Jonathon Rondeau, chief program officer for Melwood and board member for the county Human Services Coalition. "But state funding doesn't cover it all. Groups like United Way are important in a down economy."

Jackie Rhone, deputy director of Prince George's County Department of Social Services, was one of the 10-member committee, which reviewed the grants awarded yesterday. She said the number of grant applications has only grown over the years, underscoring the importance of the need non-profits have for funding in the area. 

"These are people who are invested in their community," said Rhone. "My vision is that non-profits and government agencies can partner together to be a one stop shop for services." 

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