Live Oak —
A month prior to the April 12 United Way of Suwannee Valley Annual Meeting date, United Way Board President Mike McKee determined desperate times require desperate efforts. He challenged the community to raise campaign pledges at least equal to the 2009 level. McKee, who contends he has not had short hair since a crew cut as a child, committed to having his head shaved at the annual meeting if the community can raise these funds to return to an upward trend in the annual United Way fundraising totals. Additional community support has been received, yet the 2011-12 total remains $8,809 shy of the 2009-10 results.
McKee, together with General Campaign Chair Todd Sampson and their campaign leadership, determined to maintain a goal of $685,000 although this constitutes more than $100,000 over last year’s amount achieved. “The campaign leadership resolved not to lower its goal and send the community a message there was any less need, when, in fact, the same economic environment which is posing a challenge to the community fundraising effort is increasing need,” Sampson stated.
McKee explained the reality is that without at least achieving the 2009-10 campaign amount of $570,170, there will be a deficit met only through reductions in community programs. “These programs,” Sampson explained, “serve as a safety net for many in our community. These programs contribute to our quality of life. They benefit our children, our seniors, our employees and, in one way or another, all of us every day.”
While the local United Way conducts several community impact initiatives designed to strengthen the community by advancing education, income and health, the annual community fundraising campaign provides critical support for United Way affiliated agencies providing local services. These funds are allocated by a team of volunteers which reviews each agency budget and carefully determines how to maximize the resources for the greatest positive impact on the community.
McKee and Sampson encourage individual donors to consider a contribution if they have not made one or to make an additional gift. Workplaces are encouraged to conduct office fundraisers. “Offices can contribute proceeds of bake sales or hot dog lunches. No gift is ever too small,” Sampson advised. "It all adds up.”
The local United Way will announce the results of the fundraising efforts at its annual meeting and awards banquet to be held at Florida Gateway College Howard Conference Center the evening of April 12.
“It is our hope all of the additional gifts and fundraising event dollars will bring this year’s campaign results up to prior years’ totals,” Sampson said. “And, of course,” Sampson continued, “Board President Mike McKee has issued a challenge he will shave his head if this year’s campaign results achieve the 2009 level. The annual meeting will be a lot more interesting with a hair cut on the agenda.”
United Way of Suwannee Valley is a community impact and fundraising organization which, utilizing volunteers on all levels, advances the common good by identifying unmet community needs and seeking to alleviate those needs through United Way of Suwannee Valley initiatives and the funding of 22 affiliated health and human service agencies. The 22 agencies include American Red Cross of North Central Florida; Annie Mattox Recreation Center; Another Way; Boys’ Club of Columbia County; Boys and Girls’ Club of North Central Florida, Suwannee County Branch, Boys Scouts of America, North Florida Council; CARC – Advocates for Citizens with Disabilities; CDS Family and Behavioral Health Services; Catholic Charities Bureau; Children’s Home Society of Florida; Columbia County Senior Services; Girl Scouts of Gateway Council; Happy House; Love INC of Suwannee County; Suwannee County Police Athletic League; Suwannee River Economic Council; Suwannee Valley 4Cs Head Start/Early Head Start; The Arc North Florida (formerly Comprehensive Community Services); Three Rivers Legal Services; Vivid Visions; Voices for Children/Guardian ad Litem; and WellFlorida Council.