United Way of Franklin County hopes to raise $775,000 this year

September 12, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • United Way of Franklin County 2012 Campaign Chair Joe Zmitrovich and Amy Hicks, the agency's executive director, helped launch this year's campaign Wednesday at the Orchards Restaurant in Chambersburg, Pa.
Photo by Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The United Way of Franklin County got its 2012 campaign off to a strong start Wednesday having already collected a little more than $153,877 in pledges toward its goal of $775,000.

The annual campaign launch was held at the Orchard’s Restaurant in Chambersburg.

“Over the years, our goals have increased; so have our challenges,” campaign chairman Joe Zmitrovich told the audience of representatives of businesses, organizations and members of the 40 human service agencies that benefit from the annual fundraising campaign.

The $153,877.21 raised so far came from the campaign’s pacesetters — Boyer and Ritter CPAs, First Energy, F&M Trust, Ingram Books, M&T Bank, Lutheran Home Care and Hospice, OHL, Orrstown Bank, Susquehanna Bank and Target.

The pacesetters are a group of businesses that started their employee campaigns early or have made corporate pledges.

United Way Executive Director Amy Hicks said the pacesetters provide a good indication of where the campaign is going.

“This year, they (pacesetters) exceeded 20 percent, and that’s a good indicator,” she said.

“They gave us a strong performance on the front end, so if we can keep the momentum throughout the campaign and the economy stays strong, it puts us in a good position to reach our goal.”

Zmitrovich used a hot-air balloon theme to launch the campaign season, which is expected to close March 1.

Typically, the campaign goal is increased by 5 percent every year, according to Hicks.

Last year, the United Way raised $750,000 after extending its season from Feb. 14 until March in order for funds to trickle into the system.

This year, the United Way goal is $25,000 more than last year.

“It takes us closer to meeting the need. But, even at $775,000, there is so much need in our community that it’s difficult (to meet all the need) even with increasing the giving,” Hicks said.

Funding for a lot of the organizations that the United Way supports is being cut by the state and federal government, Zmitrovich said.

“Everyone is feeling the pain. That means that somebody’s got to continue to fill that gap,” he said.

During the luncheon, Megan Shreve, executive director of South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP), talked about poverty in Franklin County and the financial obstacles families face as they move from assistance to self-sufficiency.

“It typically takes 10 years of living in the gap (before reaching independence). It’s important that community programs, of which United Way brings so many of us together, that’s what makes the difference for families,” she said.

She said 20 percent to 25 percent of Franklin County families are living in the ‘wage gap’ that exists as people attempt to rise from poverty.

As the United Way of Franklin County marks its 70th anniversary, Zmitrovich said what began in 1942 with a goal of $31,000 has grown every year.

“The goals have increased, and the need continues to increase. As we continue, we want to improve the life of our neighbors. It’s in our hands to make that difference,” he said.

“I think the desire is there to give, but people are having to reach deeper to do it now,” Hicks said.

“It’s a big number. I think it’s a doable goal,” Zmitrovich said about the campaign goal of $775,000.

Also during the campaign kickoff, John Esser, a volunteer with Lutheran Home Care and Hospice, received the 2012 Cindy Hawbaker Award. The award is the highest honor that the United Way gives to a single volunteer. It was created in memory of former Executive Director Cindy Hawbaker, who led the United Way of Franklin County for more than 10 years.

Esser was recognized for his outstanding volunteer work with hospice.

“Although some of his clients cannot talk, he is especially good at finding creative ways to communicate,” Hicks said. “He sings to them, reads scripture, holds a hand or sometimes takes them out to enjoy the sunshine.”

Esser is the fifth recipient of the award.

The honor is given to someone who quietly works behind the scenes and exemplifies Hawbaker’s example of servant leadership, Hicks said.

Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made by calling United Way at 717-262-0015.

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