United Way raises $900,000

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The 2008 United Way of Mower County fundraising campaign raised only $900,000.

Not to worry.

That was 99 percent of the campaign’s goal.

Email newsletter signup

Twenty-four non-profit agencies benefited. Fifty-nine programs were funded. The qualify of life in Mower County was made better.

The United Way of Mower County organization held its annual meeting Tuesday night at the Spam Museum. A victory party followed.

Trish Wiechmann, president of the board of directors, began her remarks, saying, “A lot of great things happened last year.”

Wiechmann had many accomplishments to recall and Mandi Lighthizer-Schmidt, executive director, echoed that observation.

“Living United,” the 2008 campaign theme stressed “advancing the common good.”

According to Wiechmann, that is done in many ways. For instance, the annual Day of Caring, which brought together 75 volunteers. Thanks to a grant from the Hormel Foundation, the United Way’s Early Childhood Initiative helped 19 children attend pre-school classes.

The Community Outerwear Drive Initiative partnered with First United Methodist Church to help more than 225 children stay warm and dry last winter.

And, Wiechmann said, the United Way’s new Get Fit challenge will help build a healthier population.

Lighthizer-Schmidt’s remarks focused on how United Way focuses on such “building blocks” for a good life as education, income stability and health.

“Everyone deserves to have a good life,” Lighthizer-Schmidt said.

Dr. David Agerter was welcomed as a new member of the United Way board of directors.

Agerter will replace Dr. Carol Holtz, who completed her term on the board.

Scott Aakre will replace Miguel Garate on the board. Garate is leaving because of job commitments.

Among the highlights of the recognition ceremonies were honors for three workplace campaigns that raised more than $100,000 each. The honorees were Hormel Foods Corporation corporate office campaign; Hormel Foods Austin-plant campaign; and Qualify Pork Processors, Inc.

Arc Mower County, Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross, Community Bank Austin, Davis, Thoen, Kramer & Associates, First Farmers & Merchants Bank of Austin, Mower Council for the Handicapped and US Bank Austin were honored for workplace participation.

Increased campaign level honors went to City of Austin, Austin Packaging Company, Austin Utilities, Davis, Thoen, Kramer & Associates, Community Bank Austin, First Farmers & Merchants Bank Austin, Hill, Larson, Walth & Benda, Hormel Institute, Shopko, Target, Worlein Funeral Home and Younkers.

Section leaders and employee coordinators were also recognized for helping the 2008 campaign.

Board members and United Way office staff were also recognized and a movie “Dream Big” shown to the crowd at the SPAM Museum.

“It was outstanding. People were so generous desite the tough times,” said Wiechmann of the 2008 campaign’s ability to raise $900,000 despite a quickly stagnating economy that threatened to unravel everything. “It was simply outstanding.”

Lighthizer-Schmidt completed her fourth campaign in 2008.

According to the executive director, the 2008 goal was to raise $910,000 or roughly the same goal as the 2007 campaign, which raised $920,000.

Monies pledged to the United Way campaign continue to arrive as late as June or July each year, but Lighthizer-Schmidt said she was comfortable with the $900,000 figure raised in the 2008 campaign.

As for the 2009 campaign goal that will be announced in September, Lighthizeer-Schmidt said the board members will study their prospects closely.

“They’re going to look at everything when we begin planning for the next campaign,” she said. “We always take a look at our performance from the year before we set another goal.”