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United Way celebrates success

February 13, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The United Way of Washington County might not have made its monetary fundraising goal for 2008, but in a time of scarce resources and record need, generosity cannot be measured in dollars, organizers said at a celebration luncheon Friday.

Instead, organizers focused on the energy and creativity volunteers used to collect $1,631,326, or about 81 percent of United Way's $2 million goal.

"If I could do one thing differently this year, it would be our measures of success," United Way Executive Director Leah Gayman said. "On the square, I'd put another thermometer. Right next to the one (showing) how much money we raised, I would put a piece that says how much impact we have, how many lives we improve, because it's not necessarily about the dollars we raise."

One in three people in Washington County were helped by the United Way and its fundraising contributions over the past year, Gayman said. The United Way helps fund 27 local agencies such as REACH, the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County and the American Red Cross.

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United Way officials used Friday's luncheon to recognize some of the campaign's standout volunteers, coordinators and contributors.

The top monetary performer, Citi, contributed more than $340,000 in addition to participating heavily in the Day of Caring, said Adeline "Addie" Staebler, the United Way's resource development director. Citi received the Chairman's Performance Award.

Roger Stenersen, who led the Washington County Public Schools campaign, was named Campaign Coordinator of the Year. The school system was one of the year's top three contributors, Staebler said.

Campaign Spirit Awards went to Bob Maginnis of The Herald-Mail, Denver Weigel of Apparatus Repair and Engineering, Andrew Sargent of Woodmark Real Estate and the 2008 Citi campaign committee.

Outstanding Achievement Awards were presented to representatives from 18 companies that improved their campaigns more than 20 percent over the previous year. The biggest improvement came from Jamison Door, which raised 96 percent more than the previous year after allowing United Way staff to meet with every single employee, Staebler said.

Another big improvement came from ribbon manufacturing company Berwick Offray, which received the Michael G. Callas Award. Utilizing incentives, drawings and half-hour presentations in front of every employee, the company raised 73 percent more than the previous year, Staebler said. To contribute even more, the company partnered with United Way to provide food and gifts to needy families over the holidays, she said.

Jim Powell, senior human resources manager at Berwick Offray, said a lot of the company's success was due to presentations from Staebler about what the United Way does and where the money goes.

"It made a big difference in our campaign," he said.

Staebler, who was in her first year as resource development director, said she was inspired by the way contributors dug deep to help even while feeling the impact of tough economic times themselves. One of the most special donations came in Thursday from a woman whose house United Way volunteers had worked on during the Day of Caring, Staebler said.

Gayman said the United Way and its partner agencies have seen record demand for their services as the economy has worsened. By Christmas, five people a day were calling the United Way, at the end of their ropes after exhausting other resources, she said.

"We turned to you, and all of you gave every bit that you could," Gayman said. "We are so thankful to have all of you on our side."

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