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Friday, April 28, 2017
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(Rick Hickman / American Press)

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Editorial: Success behind them, United Way toils on

Last Modified: Monday, March 04, 2013 9:37 AM

If Denise Durel ever harbored any doubts about the success of the 2012 United Way of Southwest Louisiana campaign, she cannot recall them.

The United Way president and CEO said she felt “really good” about the campaign from its launch in August until its completion last week, when funds raised totaled some $4.27 million.

That final figure represented a quarter-million dollar leap from the previous year’s campaign — 107 percent of the 2012 campaign goal. That’s a big deal for some three dozen agencies funded by United Way and a big deal for the people those agencies serve.

Durel said she sensed special enthusiasm among volunteers early in the campaign. Extraordinary things happened, she said, both in the fund-raising efforts at the company levels and among companies, some of whom shared success stories and strategies with one another.

“People had new ways to energize their teams,” she said, some of which included CEOs who shaved their mustaches or even their heads if their company employees met 2012 goals.

Early in the campaign, pace-setting companies reported good early returns and the good news just kept coming. United Way’s leadership kept abreast of turns or shifts in the local economy, and United Way staff members worked closely with individual company campaigns. Inside the United Way office, employees rang a bell whenever good news was reported.

“Our bell rang a lot,” Durel said.

Small wonder, then, that when 2012 campaign chairwoman Patricia Prebula addressed the campaign-ending Leaders & Legends luncheon last week, she declared last year’s efforts “a huge success.”

It was a success for the United Way office. It was a success for its volunteers, who included Dan Losey of Phillips 66, who received the Thomas J. Morris Sr. Volunteer of the Year Award, and for volunteer Tammy Abraham of Delta Downs, who received the Harper L. Clark Sr. “Spirit of Southwest Louisiana” Award.

It was a success, too — and this is especially important — for the agencies funded, which includes Abraham’s Tent, the Allen County Council on Aging, Beauregard Special Olympics, the Children’s Museum of Lake Charles, the Cameron Council on Aging, the Jeff Davis Communities Against Domestic Abuse, the Salvation Army, and many other agencies that serve people around the five-parish region.

Donors embraced the United Way’s efforts to invest in children, care for people in crisis, increase people’s self-sufficiency, improve health and fitness, and build stronger families and stronger communities.

The Wednesday celebration — well earned — was short lived, Durel said. Folks were training Thursday for the 2013 campaign. The needs do not end.

Neither does the effort.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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