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United Way Kicks Off Fundraising Campaign With Big Head Start

by on August 19, 2014 7:05 AM

Colleen Williams knew that she was “preaching to the choir” at the United Way’s 2014 general fundraising campaign kickoff dinner on Monday night. 

The campaign co-chair knew the crowd gathered before her – made up of United Way volunteers and supporters – didn’t need to be sold on the non-profit organization’s importance to Centre County.

Despite this, she stressed how important the voice of the choir is to any congregation. Williams said it will be the volunteers and representatives from the United Way’s partner agencies gathered before her that will ultimately give life to this year’s fundraising campaigns.

“We’re asking you to be a voice for Centre County,” Williams said.

United Way representatives revealed two important numbers at the dinner at the Mountain View County Club in Boalsburg, and both were met with excited applause.

The first was $510,838: the amount raised over the summer through the Pacesetter Campaign, in which employees at area businesses get a head start on making donations.

Tammy Gentzel, executive director of the Centre County United Way, says that the Pacesetter Campaign is meant to “get everyone all geared up and excited” for the night’s second big number – this year’s total amount of community need, which is $2,125,000.

With nearly 25 percent of this need already raised from the Pacesetter Campaign, Genztel says she’s “thrilled” to get this year’s campaign underway.

“We asked for a 5 percent increase over the summer from the businesses that we work with, and we had many shoot way past that,” Gentzel says. “I’m so excited for this year’s potential.”

Though Genztel  says the needs within the community have grown since she’s been involved with the United Way, so has the response from volunteers and supporters. The money raised in their campaigns helps fund various nonprofit organizations in the Centre Region in three main areas: education, income and health.

Dianna Meckley, one of the Pacesetter Campaign co-chairs, says that the United Way has personally made a difference in her life. With two special needs children that benefit from their services, she volunteers as a way to give back – and so does her daughter Brandy.

“I like helping them out,” Brandy says. “I think they give a lot of help for a lot of people.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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