Tina Carinci Morris is the secret weapon of nonprofit agencies in the Ohio Valley. As a freelance marketing and development specialist, she has been working with the United Way and other area nonprofits to help secure funding for their vital projects.
Tina has recently surpassed the $15 million mark in funding secured through grant writing, capital campaigns, strategic development and annual appeals.
What started as a job offer from the United Way has developed into a fully collaborative service for nonprofits who are or are not member agencies of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley.
Tina’s 34 years of experience in news reporting and corporate communication launched a career in matching an agency’s needs with funders who are willing to support their mission.
“My job has evolved over the years as the needs of Wheeling have changed. But my main mission is to bring multiple agencies together to support one goal and share the funds to make change happen,” Tina relates. “No one should even know I exist. None of this is about me or my abilities. It’s always about the organization and their mission and story.”
“No one should even know I exist. None of this is about me or my abilities. It’s always about the organization and their mission and story.” — Tina Carinci Morris
Tina has found that the Northern Panhandle may have several nonprofits that work with clients in drug recovery, mental health, human trafficking, hunger and more. For the first time, she has a way to bring all of these agencies together. She can pool their resources and ensure that the foundation money obtained through grants has the biggest impact possible on the community.
Since Tina’s No. 1 requested service is grant writing, she enjoys bringing together members of the community who are working toward the same goal.
Four years ago, Tina wrote and received funding from the Walmart Let’s Start Fresh program. Sixteen local organizations have benefited from the funding providing fresh food to childcare centers, seniors centers, The Soup Kitchen and more. It has also provided education and outreach about healthy eating habits. Some of the recipients have gone on to start gardening programs themselves.
The impact of a collaborative effort such as this one ripples through the community. People in all areas and stages of life are given an opportunity to benefit when agencies work together. Funders are more likely to support collaborative projects that can show they are serving an entire community. Plus, the impact is tremendous when needs can be met in a variety of locations and mediums.
Tina had the privilege of obtaining the funding for Serenity Hills Life Center. In the summer of 2019, this addiction recovery center for women opened as the largest in West Virginia. It has 72 beds in the main facility with an additional 10 bed designated just for pregnant women. It also has a step-down program for those transitioning back to independent living.
With the rising rates of substance abuse in the mountain state, many organizations were trying to address the problem. Treatment for women was identified as an area that was still lacking focus. With the $3 million grant written by Tina, services can now be offered locally.
“I’m so excited for the Ohio Valley that this is now available. And it won’t just help the women who stay there. It will benefit families, children and the community.”
THE UNITED WAY AND BEYOND
While Tina is a contractor for the United Way, she is in no way limited to working just with the 26 member agencies.
“It was agreed when I started that my projects would be community-wide. Being able to work with every social service agency gives us a huge reach and a big impact,” Tina says.
“Tina is fantastic at finding state and federal money and bringing it into the area. She understands the needs of the area and can help the funding end up in places like Wheeling instead of exclusively in bigger cities.” Jessica Rine, executive director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, explains.
Tina has developed a team of freelance professionals who are available to assist community organizations find funders. This can be anything from grant research and writing to creating a cohesive social media platform that engages potential sponsors.
“We want to match an organization’s need to the right donors. People are generous. They just don’t always know where to look or how to find an organization whose mission they care deeply about. Our annual appeals, press releases, websites, video production and capital campaigns bring awareness to the needs of the community,” Tina says.
By making connections and supporting the mission of all nonprofits in the area, Wheeling benefits. The House of the Carpenter on Wheeling Island is able to build their new youth center thanks to a capital campaign led by Tina and her team. The Wheeling YWCA is developing programs to fight human trafficking in the local area. Laughlin Memorial Chapel uses grant money to provide services directly to low-income at-risk youth.
But Tina and the United Way are not stopping at $15 million in funding. They are working to see the Ohio Valley fully served with an array of services tailored to the needs of the community. It takes money to make these dreams possible. Thankfully, the Ohio Valley has a team in the business of making dreams come true.
To find out how you can get involved in supporting Wheeling’s needs, contact the United Way or attend their annual fundraiser, September to Remember, reverse raffle on Sept. 12 to kick off the 2019-20 campaign. Details can be found at www.unitedwayuov.org
• Stacey Sacco is a Wheeling native currently living in Martins Ferry with her husband and four children. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work and previously worked for several social service agencies. She is the production editor for InWheeling Magazine.