MILTON — United Way of West Florida President Laura Gilliam recently visited with the Milton Rotary Club to share what the non-profit organization has been doing to help the county since taking over from United Way Santa Rosa County this year.

Gilliam, who became president of UWWF in 2018 after serving as the executive director of the United Way of River City for 12 years, said the organization's board voted to change the name from United Way of Escambia County to the present name in April to reflect their commitment to serving both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

"We felt like if by serving two counties we needed to have a name that better represented our service to those two counties," Gilliam said.

She said one thing she feels people are still confused on is understanding that her organization chose to serve SRC.

"That was what our board voted to do," she said. "We are a multi-county United Way, which is not an uncommon thing to be in." 

Gilliam said she wanted to make people aware that her organization did not merge with the former UWSRC and did not take over their program, building, or operations.

"That organization still exists as an entity on the books," she said. "It is just not operational."

While it was customary for SRC to have one United Way devoted to their county, Gilliam said when she was director of the River City branch they served five counties. She said she will be working on setting up priorities for both counties to ensure both get the help they need.

To help with keeping their transparency, Gilliam said every year they have an external audit done that is open to the public.

"This year we had our auditor, we asked him to do a little extra oversight in some areas and we had no issues, it was a clean audit," she said. "That audit is readily available by going to our website, calling our office, or checking Charity Navigator, or Guide Star."

As part of their efforts to maintain the support in SRC, Gilliam said the 14 nonprofit agencies in SRC that received funding from UWSRC last year would receive the same amount of funding this year.

“In order to honor donor intent, and to fairly distribute the funds, United Way of West Florida is providing level funding to the 14 agencies that received funding last year,” Gilliam said. “Agencies completed a brief application regarding the use of the funds, and other documentation attesting to their nonprofit status. Funded agencies will provide semi-annual reports on their work, as well as financial reports on the expenditure of funds.”