United Way Shelton, Mason County Washington

I met with Carrie Lemmon at the United Way of Mason County in Shelton to find out just exactly what they do. There is so much to the United Way's operations, I will undoubtedly overlook some of it in this brief article. The gist of it is the United Way acts as a facilitator to assist in connecting people with fundamental needs with the appropriate local resources. Their official mission "Is to mobilize the power of our local community to help our neighbors in need and advance the common good." That's a nice sentiment, and a worthy ambition, but it doesn't fully convey the many aspects of United Way of Mason County's activities.


For example, I left the office with an 8 1/2 x 14 inch list of community service resources, Thurston County on one side, Mason County on the other, single spaced in about 8 point type filling both sides of the jumbo sheet of paper. Here is a partial list of main categories of needs covered:


Chemical Dependency

Counseling/Mental Health

Physical and Mental Disabilities


Employment Information and Assistance

Food & Nutrition

Medical/Health Services

Emergency Shelters and Housing

Legal and Consumer Assistance

Senior Issues

and assorted specialized areas of local concern.


Rather than actually running food banks and shelters, United Way's function is to seek out and verify the best, most effective providers of assistance and direct folks in need to the appropriate resources.   Another feature related to this function is the 2-1-1 service - a phone number to call for valuable information. Quoting from the United Way website: "2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number for people to call for health and human service information and referrals to help meet their needs. It provides quick access to health and human services, encourages prevention, and fosters self-sufficiency. It also helps people learn about where to volunteer or contribute to a charity in their community. Burning House call 9-1-1, Burning Question call 2-1-1"


 How great that dialing 3 digits can get you to information that could literally change your life!

Another program is the FREE Familywize prescription drug discount card that you can get from the local United Way office or on-line at www.familywize.org


Money and goods aren't distributed directly to individuals in need at United Way, rather they provide funding to various Mason County organizations (currently 18 nonprofit organizations) through grants and other funding requests. United Way of Mason County is known for its careful review of any organizations they consider for these types of disbursements to ensure the money goes to fund projects that are financially viable and that the money is accounted for and well spent.

So I learned a lot more than I originally knew about an organization whose name I'd been familiar with since childhood and I hope some of this information is helpful to anyone reading this article.  Just knowing about the 2-1-1 phone number in case of major life reversals, which can happen to any of us, is worth the five minutes it took to read this article.


 united way volunteers

For more information visit their website at http://unitedwaymasonco.org or contact them at:

United Way of Mason County
724 W Railroad Avenue
Shelton, WA 98584
(360) 426-4999
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hours: M - F 9am to 4pm