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United Way Kicks Off Fundraising Campaign

by on August 18, 2012 8:05 AM

To kick-off its 2012 fundraising campaign, the Centre County United Way invited more than 200 community members to gather in friendship at the Bryce Jordan Center as “One Community United” Monday night.

The event was sponsored by First National Bank and featured a reception catered by BJC staff, games for children and live entertainment from Bo Belly the Clown and the Nittany All-Star Cheerleaders. United Way speakers discussed their hopes for the community and their goals for this year’s general campaign.

The program began with remarks by Tom McKee, the chair of the Centre County United Way Board of Directors.

In thanking the community for all its hard work, McKee said though the past nine months have been difficult for Centre County, one thing still remains clear.

“We’re a community that cares for each other and we (the United Way) will continue to support one another through philanthropy, volunteerism and loyalty to our partner agencies,” he said.

McKee went on to send a very special thank you to First National Bank for its sponsorship of the event and its continued United Way support and employee involvement over the years.

Pacesetter Campaign co-chairs Mindy Dillon of Sovereign Bank and Colleen Williams of HRG took to the podium next to announce the results of their fundraising campaign.

As co-chairs of this campaign, Dillon and Williams worked with 35 Pacesetter companies and the 37 United Way partner agencies to start the year out right and set the bar high for the 2012 United Way fundraising season.

Dillon said before the morning was over at the breakfast at Hope For Kids kick-off event on June 5, she and Williams were more than ready to get to work.

Since then, Pacesetter companies and partner agencies have been busy running their employee campaigns to raise money for the Centre County United Way.

“These 35 companies are vital component of the overall campaign as they set the bar for the level of giving and really harness the momentum to move us forward. They (the companies) are creative, committed and compassionate people who are making an impact in our community,” Williams said.

According to Dillon, the United Way board members and staff also make their financial pledges during the Pacesetter Campaign.

“They are not only doing their best to raise money in the community, but they are also contributing personally to the campaign. It means a lot to have the agencies, the board and the staff so committed to improving lives in Centre County,” she said.

With the announcement of a Pacesetter Campaign total of $538,581, Dillon and Williams believe a statement that supporting the United Way is the right thing to do.

To do the right thing, community members were encouraged to join the United Way’s Young Leaders group, co-chaired by Denise McCann of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau and Susan McWhirter of Penn State.

To be a Young Leader and qualify at a leadership level of giving, donors who are 45-years-old or younger contribute a minimum of $500 to the campaign each year.

“But that’s not all we are. We are community members who are excited about philanthropy, volunteering and finding ways to positively impact our community,” McWhirter said.

She explained that Young Leaders have the opportunity to participate in service projects that benefit United Way partner agencies.

Campaign Co-Chairs Hugh Mose of CATA and Nick Lingenfelter then introduced those in attendance to the new campaign structure, which will be used this year.

Mose explained that the new model will no longer focus on the geographical structure that has been used in the past. Instead, the campaign will now focus on divisions that are designed to focus on how the campaign actually functions. Four separate divisions including business outreach, campaign ambassador, donor affinity and Penn State ambassador will now help to better aid the United Way.

“We know with the support of our campaign team, local businesses, Penn State and our community, which is so rich with caring people, we can make an impact. We can improve lives. The key to our success will be working together as one community united,” Lingenfelter said.

He said because the community has been through such a difficult year, the theme of “One Community United” could not have come at a better time.

“We’re still here. We are still a community of caring, capable, compassionate and proud people. I know that together, we are stronger. We are one community united,” he said.

To add a personal touch, Ceclysta Strouse shared her story of first supporting the United Way and then receiving help from the program after the loss of her vision.

“Through these organizations, it has allowed me to still be an independent person with just a little bit of help. I really, truly feel that all of the organizations have been fantastic in helping me out and they deserve your support back,” she said.

To close out the program, Tammy Gentzel, executive director of the Centre County United Way, expressed that on any given day, anyone in the community could need the help of the United Way.

“Thanks for helping us to ensure that help will be there for all of us, if and when we need it. Thank you for being one community. . .united,” she said.

For more information about the Centre County United Way or to learn how to donate, visit

Sam is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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