United Way of Southwest Louisiana opens 2013 fundraising campaign

By By Justin Phillips / American Press

Superman, Catwoman and a few other cape-wearing heros gathered in the Civic Center’s Buccaneer Room Thursday morning for the

annual United Way of Southwest Louisiana kickoff breakfast.

Even though Catwoman didn’t look

capable of pulling off an elaborate jewel heist and Superman was even

less likely to leap

over a tall building, it was the thought that counted as the

United Way began its 2013 fundraising campaign with a theme of

“Be a United Way Superhero.”

With dozens of company representatives and several regional political figures in attendance, including Mayor Randy Roach,

the event highlighted the fundraising goal for 2013 — $4 million.

The United Way of Southwest Louisiana

intends to distribute the funds to 34 local agencies, eventually

reaching over 100,000

people in the region. The agencies focus on varying topics

including health, education, financial stability and crisis management.

Campaign Chair Robert Gelinas, decked out in a cape and the makeshift ability to fly, said the event is about building energy

and excitement for the new campaign.

“The level of energy here today was really good, people seemed to really be ready for the new year,” Gelinas said. “Having

these events is important. It’s a great way to start the new season.”

Gelinas said that with 16.5 percent of

its goal already met, the United Way is in a better position financially

than last

year. The existing donations come from “Pacesetters” companies,

companies that completed their campaigns with their employees

prior to Thursday’s event.

“We’re ahead of the previous year’s pace and that’s a great sign,” Gelinas said. “Hopefully we’ll inspire people to go back

to work or to church and talk about the United Way and what we’re doing.”