Editorial: Success behind them, United Way toils on

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.