A donation to the United Way campaign is an investment in the community, Campaign Co-Chair Becky Buhr told corporate contributors Thursday morning at a kick-off breakfast for the 2012 drive.
“It is truly the best way to pay it forward,” said Buhr, who will lead this year’s campaign with Brad Mitchell.
Buhr said the last four years have been “tough” with the depressed economy and increased needs among all United Way agencies. She said the board has been forced to take money from its reserve to fund the 45 agencies and programs it supports.
“Because of the increasing need for additional services, we are increasing our goal this year,” she said.
Buhr said it’s always been a dream of Paula Obermark, United Way executive director, who is retiring next year, to reach a $1 million goal.
“As a tribute to Paula for her 33 years of devoted service, we are establishing a goal of $1 million,” she said, noting last year a total of $890,513 was raised.
“With the great board that we have and the support of the many dedicated companies and individuals in our area, I know we can reach this goal,” Buhr said.
Mitchell encouraged company representatives to hold a campaign in their workplaces and for all residents to consider a donation no matter how small.
“In 2011, we served 70,312 people in our area. This is an increase of 5,044 individuals who received help,” he said. “Each one of us has the opportunity to make someone’s life better by participating in the United Way campaign.”
Mitchell noted that more than 85 cents from every dollar contributed to the campaign is used to provide programs and services that help people now.
Helping to lead this year’s campaign are five pilot companies which have already kicked off their drives. They include East Central College, First State Community Bank, Parker Hannifin-Sporlan Division, Sullivan School District and Rainbow Activity Center, a United Way agency. Representatives from each company were recognized at the breakfast.
Buhr said these companies will lead the overall drive by holding advance campaigns to help set the pace.
A new campaign video also was shown at the breakfast which highlights Rainbow Activity Center, Union. The center provides learning opportunities for adults with developmental and/or mental disabilities so they can become vital members of the community.
In the video, Rainbow clients are shown helping other United Way agencies such as Meals on Wheels, Pregnancy Assistance Center and local food pantries.
The video also discusses United Way’s mission of building better communities by caring for the elderly and disabled, strengthening families, providing children and young people with skills to become productive citizens and providing emergency assistance to those in crisis.
Lori Doyle of Rainbow Activity Center, also spoke Thursday. She explained the agency’s mission, the wide variety of activities clients participate in and skills taught, as well as continued growth Rainbow has experienced since it was started in 1983. She also shared stories of some of the clients, who she refers to as friends, and what the center means to them.
At the end of the program Doyle introduced several of her clients who were in attendance and helped them pass out thank-you notes they had colored and signed for donors.
The United Way board of directors and staff also were announced during the program, as well as the 2012 campaign sponsors who help support events like the breakfast and recognition reception at the end of the campaign.
Also recognized were photographer Curt Dennison, who donates his services for the United Way posters and brochures, and Matt Wilson, who produces the campaign video.
The breakfast was held at East Central College in Union.