United Way celebrates goal topping

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2000

The United Way of Mower County Inc.

Wednesday, December 06, 2000

The United Way of Mower County Inc. fund drive was declared over at noon Tuesday, when a victory party was held at the Holiday Inn in Austin.

Email newsletter signup

Jerry Adwell, general campaign chair, reported $675,316 in pledges.

The total, however, could be even higher because "the money is still coming in," according to Amy J. Baskin, United Way executive director.

For a legitimately amazing 21st consecutive year, the United Way fund drive has met or exceeded its goal.

This year, the volunteers were challenged to raise $625,000. A week ago, the Quality Pork Processors Inc. campaign concluded with a record-setting $81,650 in pledges.

Also Tuesday, the Hormel Foods Corp. Austin plant fund drive concluded with a record-setting $80,209 in pledges.

Is it any wonder that United Way organizers were positively giddy at Tuesday’s victory party?

Asked what the United Way campaign could do for an encore next year after the 21st successful campaign, Baskin replied: "Go for 22."

Twenty-seven agencies providing more than 70 programs and services will benefit from the generosity of United Way contributors.

Adwell said the local campaign reflects one of the quality-of-life issues for which the entire state of Minnesota is known: charitable giving. The only word he could find to adequately describe the latest success story was "awesome."

Adwell praised division leaders Kris Johnson and Bill Snyder for their efforts.

Johnson and Snyder, in turn, praised the efforts of section leaders and other volunteers within the two divisions.

Johnson’s maroon division raised $129,145 in pledges or 98 percent of its goal. Snyder’s blue division raised $297,377 or 101 percent of its goal. Combined, the two divisions topped the 108 percent of goal mark this year.

Individual section success stories were many.

The blue division’s Bill Morey’s trades and industry section reached 105 percent of goal. Neal Ronquist and the media section reached 100 percent; Jerome and Deb Bennefeld in the insurance section reached 102 percent; and Jim Mueller’s and Mark Bjorlie’s clubs and organizations section in the maroon division reached the 109 percent mark.

But the standard among the sections was set by Joyce Reynen and Tami Oldfather in the health-care section of the maroon division.

The pair coordinated a campaign at Austin Medical Center that reached the 125 percent of goal mark.

No less than 51 individual businesses showed an increase in pledges over 1999 totals, including 11 that increased pledges by 100 percent or better topped by Younkers’ 217 percent increase and Halliday’s Exhaust Pros, a whopping 400 percent.

Several people credited incentives with helping spur employees to pledge to the United Way. Sharon Alms, the education section leader in the maroon division, received a pledge from Dr. James A. Hess, superintendent of Austin Public Schools, to take over a half-day in a classroom for the top contributor in the section.

"We appreciate all your hard work to keep the support coming for the agencies that make all of Mower County a better place to live," Snyder said to the volunteers.

According to Adwell, the celebrity challenge between the maroon division’s radio personalities, Duane Germain and Dan Conradt of KAUS AM-FM, and the blue division’s television personalities, Erin Connors and Dan Ruiter of KAAL Region 6, remains undecided at this time. Whichever division’s total is larger than the other’s means the celebrities representing that division will have to serve their counterparts dinner at Centre Court in OakPark Mall in January.

Randy Kramer, president of the United Way board of directors, observed, "It never ceases to amaze me the extent of the outreach shown each year by the United Way campaign. I’m proud to be involved with everybody who went out and told the United Way story this year."