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United Way official hits ground running

September 18, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY - After spending the first 20 years of her life in her native Alaska, Leah Gayman headed south - first to Virginia and then to Waynesboro, Pa., where she lives with her husband, Grant, and their 10-year-old son, Quentin.

For the past five weeks, Gayman has been working in her new job - resource development and campaign director for the United Way of Washington County.

"I told my husband that the people I am working with are brilliant and compassionate," Gayman said.

And that's a big statement considering she has been thrown into the deep end of the pool rather early on.

The United Way campaign for 2006 was kicked into high gear Thursday and Gayman has had to hit the ground running - there was no time for training.

"There have been long hours while we focus on getting the word out," Gayman said.

Gayman, 29, said she realized a number of years ago that she needed a sense of independence in her life beyond being a wife and mother.

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"So I went to college full time," Gayman said. While still busy in her home life, she didn't have to contend with juggling a job as well like so many people do when they opt for college later in life.

Gayman graduated in August from Shippensburg (Pa.) University with a degree in public administration. "This is exactly what I want to do," she said.

She said she wants to be a part of something where things are changed at the root. And she loves the concept of people being helped to help themselves.

At the United Way kickoff breakfast, Gayman suggested to the volunteers that when they distribute their campaign packets to employers, they take time out for the personal touch.

"Try to spend at least five minutes with the company's campaign director," she said, adding that she will be available to go anywhere she is needed to help spread the United Way message, too.

"I'm a resource, I tell them," Gayman said.

Right from the start, Gayman said she knew she had made the right choice in employment. "This United Way board is made up of such caring people," she said.

In her early years, Gayman said her family lived in Fairbanks while her father worked on the Alaskan pipeline. After he died, the rest of the family moved to Virginia where they still reside.

A former dairy farmer, Gayman's husband is involved now in dairy management.

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