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[January 31, 2013]
United Way campaign tops $10 million for first time
Jan 31, 2013 (Journal Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- EAST PEORIA The Heart of Illinois United Way raised $10,546,193 in 2012, a new record and the first time the agency topped the $10 million mark in an annual campaign.The total was a 17 percent increase over the 2011 campaign.
The announcement was made at a wrap-up celebration held Wednesday evening at the Embassy Suites Hotel in East Peoria.
"This community has been extraordinarily generous year after year, but you can see the progress we've made since 2000 when we talking about an annual goal of $5 million," said Michael Stephan, president of the Heart of Illinois unit that covers Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties.
More than 300 local companies and organizations annually take part in the United Way campaign that provides funding to 47 partner agencies in this area. Programs help more than 1,100 people every day across the region, according to United Way officials.
Stephan credited the leadership of campaign chairs, Steve and Bonnie Gosselin, in spearheading the record effort. "They were very accessible, willing to make presentations and always available for special visits," he said.
The record campaign total was testimony to the generosity of the community, said Gosselin, a vice president at Caterpillar Inc.
"I also have to credit the local United Way agency that makes sure tangible results come back to this community," he said. "There's a level of trust that goes into giving here." Gosselin added that a record campaign is more important than ever in light of recent budget cuts. "In the last two years, our agencies have lost $11 million in state and federal funds," he said.
A successful United Way campaign benefits the community in a lot of ways, said Stephan. "Among the area's biggest needs are stocking food pantries, improving literacy among schoolchildren -- improving third-grade reading skills -- and providing families help with medical needs such as dental health," he said.
The United Way looks to team up with Advanced Medical Transport in launching a comprehensive telephone referral program in April, said Stephan.
"People will be able to call 211 for non-emergency health and human services available in the area," he said.
Ken Mauser, Journal Star publisher and a member of the United Way board, said the phone service amounted to "a one-stop shop" for those in need of area services.
The winners of two new awards were also announced in the 2012 campaign. The Best in Class Award, based on employee participation, per capita giving and over all increase in contributions, went to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Campaign Achievement Award, recognizing a campaign with the largest percentage increase in employee participation from 2011 to 2012, went to Morgan Stanley.
Doug Stewart, regional president at National City Bank, and his wife, Vicky, will chair the United Way campaign locally in 2013.
Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or email@example.com. Follow his blog, Minding Business, on pjstar.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveTarter ___ (c)2013 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) Visit the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) at www.PJStar.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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