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Franklin County kicks off United Way campaign

September 12, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA.

Bob Harrison had been involved with the United Way for decades when his wife fell terminally ill.

When making arrangements for Ruth Harrison's care, the couple better realized the United Way's impact.

The Harrisons worked with their doctor to arrange for in-home Hospice care, a part of Lutheran Home Care Services that benefits from the United Way network of organizations.

"The cost was zero. Medicare and Hospice would pay all the bills," Bob Harrison said.

Bob Harrison served as the featured speaker at Wednesday's kickoff luncheon for the United Way of Franklin County's campaign, where officials announced a $750,000 fundraising goal. The goal represents a 5 percent increase from last year.

About a dozen area businesses got an early start on the fundraising, collecting $168,000 in donations since Aug. 12.

"The United Way campaign funds we raise every year are allocated to our partner agencies ... who benefit the public health and safety of the community," said Michele Zeigler, board president.

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Contributions benefit 26 area organizations like Manito's Crossings Program, Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless, Franklin County Therapeutic Riding Center and Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.

"From our agencies to volunteers, each individual act of kindness encourages others to respond," said Amy Murray, immediate past campaign chairwoman.

"We've been an United Way agency here in Franklin County for I don't know how long, at least 20 years," Terry Shade said when sitting down with Harrison after lunch. Shade was representing Lutheran Home Care Services.

United Way contributions benefit the Home Health and Hospice programs, which combined serve 2,500 people every year, Shade said. Hospice works with the terminally ill, while Home Health often involves a rehabilitation component, she said.

"In my view, Hospice is an emotional experience and one that must be personally felt. ... Forevermore, Hospice means Ruth for me," Harrison said.

"We wanted to be together, savoring every precious moment," he said.

Harrison said he was surprised when nursing aides, medical equipment and social workers "magically arrived at our front door" without cost to the couple. He said he treasured his wife's last three months before she died in October 2005.

"She passed away peacefully in my arms in our home," Harrison said.

Thirty thousand households in the county will be receiving packets of information about the campaign.

The United Way of Franklin County plans to unveil its Web site in the next few weeks.

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