Last Modified: Thursday, August 09, 2012 6:13 PM
For the United Way of Southwest Louisiana, a 2012 campaign goal of $4 million in donations is surely doable.
After all, United Way cleared that figure last year when it eclipsed its $3.95 million goal by collecting $4,158,301.
But United Way President and CEO Denise Durel said United Way professionals, board members and volunteers who set the collection targets are well aware that sometimes, factors that affect success or failure in annual campaigns are beyond the control of the people who press for successful fund drives. Those factors can include a soft national economy.
Nonetheless, Southwest Louisiana has generous people with a deep appreciation for the needs of their neighbors and their community. Speaking at the campaign kickoff Wednesday, campaign chairwoman Patricia Prebula announced that campaign “Pacesetters,” those companies and agencies that ran early campaigns, have already collected $609,380, about 15 percent of the ultimate target. That’s a great start, about on target, Prebula said.
But United Way campaigns are less about money collected, more about people served. Campaign funds help fund some 30 agencies, which in turn serve some 100,000 people in some fashion in Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen and Jefferson Davis parishes. Those people in need — they are our neighbors — are served through agencies such as Abraham’s Tent Association, which serves hot meals six days a week; Beauregard ARC Inc., which helps train the developmentally disabled; Boy Scouts-Louisiana Purchase Council, which trains youngsters in ethics, citizenship and leadership; Cameron Council on Aging, which provides meals, transportation and more to the elderly in Cameron Parish; Jeff Davis CADA, which provides shelter to battered women and children; the Salvation Army, which aids families in crisis, including victims of natural disasters; and many more.
That’s why 300 people gathered for the early morning kickoff, convinced that the best way to serve their community and fellow citizens is through united efforts. Campaign volunteers may top 2,000 this year, Durel said, people who engage their communities by donating their time, toil and treasure. They join a proud local legacy as the United Way launches this 73rd campaign. Over the decades, United Way has collected some $97 million in the five-parish region.
The massive effort launched on a warm August morning will conclude in the cool of a United Way annual meeting in February. Campaign success will depend upon volunteer efforts as well as donor generosity. The 2012 United Way campaign presents more than an opportunity to give. It provides a chance to belong, to foster community, and to be part of a widespread and heartfelt effort to do our best for friends and neighbors around us.
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, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.