‘Victory Celebration’ was the appropriate name for an event held late Thursday afternoon (February 7th) as the St. Joseph County United Way marked the completion of its ‘Campaign 2013’ fundraising effort.
Held in the all-purpose room at Immaculate Conception Church in Three Rivers, the celebration was highlighted by the announcement that the campaign not only met its goal of $715,000, but exceeded it by a substantial amount.
Placards with numbers and symbols – held aloft by youngsters wearing United Way shirts – revealed the grand total: $735,689.
Money generated by the fundraising campaign will help support the work of 42 organizations that provide a wide variety of services in St. Joseph County.
Sara and Rick Daniels of Three Rivers were recognized for their service as ‘Honorary Chairs’ for the 2013 campaign – and the event brought the announcement that Patty and Rob LaBarge of Sturgis will serve in that capacity for ‘Campaign 2014.’
The celebration included recognition of many individuals, organizations and businesses who, in a variety of ways, contributed to the success of the fundraising effort. It also brought the announcement of the ‘Top Ten’ as far as fundraising totals. Topping the list was Sturgis Hospital which raised $51,339. Others – in descending order – were:
- American Axle & Manufacturing
- Burr Oak Tool, Inc.
- TH Plastics
- Morgan Olson
- Abbott Nutrition
- Three Rivers Health
- Kadant Johnson
- Sturgis Public Schools
- Armstrong international.
In remarks as she and her husband wrapped up their role as Honorary Chairs, Sara Daniels said, “Rick and I had a really rewarding experience this year as Honorary Co-Chairs. We’re very thankful that the goal was hit – and, not only hit, but surpassed.” She noted the importance of contributors and volunteers, the agencies that provide services with help from the United Way fundraising, and the work done by Executive Director Kelly Hostetler and her staff. (Sara Daniels audio clip – 1:08)
In looking toward the upcoming campaign in which he and his wife will be involved, Rob LaBarge said that he’s been involved in the United Way for more than 30 years because “United Way is so tremendously important to the community that we support. The true mark of a community is the ability to support those less fortunate.” LaBarge also said, “The other thing that has always meant a lot to me about United Way is we decide ourselves how the money is spent. Not somebody outside of our community, not someone we don’t know. It’s people inside our own community deciding how we spend the money and what we support.”
LaBarge, who is the CEO of Sturgis Hospital, noted that 13 years ago the hospital raised $1,300, but has grown its participation since then to the point that it was the top fundraiser this year. As the next round of fundraising begins, he challenged attendees to “take the opportunity in your companies or in your community to engage people” and “set the spark.” And he said, “We’re looking forward to the next year.” (Rob LaBarge audio clip – :55)
Doug Fisher, the current president of the United Way Board of Directors, paid tribute to his predecessor, Jeff Romig. Fisher said, “I think you’ve noticed that there’s been just a huge surge in United Way giving in St. Joseph County and that is the function of leadership and Jeff Romig started to provide that leadership when he came on the board just a few years ago and he has done a great job and we owe this goal and the success in achieving it in no small measure to his service as a leader on our board.”
In a summary provided to the news media in conjunction with the victory celebration, Hostetler commented on the leadership by Rick and Sara Daniels during the 2013 campaign. She said, “Rick and Sara went into this campaign wanting to do one major event – which turned out to be the Mega Raffle in October. We raised $35,000 at this event and gave away $17,500 that night.”
Hostetler said, “Rick and Sara also felt strongly about education. The total of all education employees in St. Joseph County is our largest employer. The educational workforce also has the largest impact on our lives. Rick and Sara asked for time in each school district to say thank you for their continuing efforts in educating and being positive role models to our kids and to also ask for their support for the St. Joseph county United Way. The education community responded full force, increasing their contributions over 60 percent countywide!”
Hostetler noted that – in the just-concluded campaign – there were 106 Leadership Givers, individuals who donate $1,000 or more per year to the St. Joseph County United Way. She said contributions from Leadership Givers represent approximately 26 percent of the campaign and totaled over $185,000.
Hostetler said that ‘Special Events’ generated over $160,000, which is approximately 22 percent of the campaign. These events included the Mega Raffle, WBET RadioThon, Silent Auction, Home Expo Pancake Breakfast, Golf Outing, Raffles, Celebrity Waiter Nights and Sturgis Hospital Roofsit.
Thursday’s Victory Celebration was sponsored by R & R Trailers and Three Rivers Health.
Campaign 2012 also exceeded its goal of $650,000 by raising just over $680,000.
For additional information, click on the following link to access the printed program for the Victory Celebration: St. Joseph County United Way – Campaign 2013.