United Way tops goal 2nd year in a row|[11/14/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

For the second year in a row, the United Way of West Central Mississippi has exceeded its $1.5 million goal.

As of Monday afternoon the United Way had raised $1,502,039, and pledges were still coming in. The official deadline was Oct. 6, but the United Way continues to accept pledges, donations and reports. Those could push the result of this year’s campaign higher.

When the goal was set in July, Campaign Chairman Skipper Guizerix confidently proclaimed, &#8220There is no reason why we could not exceed this goal.”

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This is the second year the fundraising agency has reached its goal. The goal last year was also $1.5 million, and $1,500,573.61 was raised.

The previous three years, the goal was not reached.

&#8220It is a great moment for the United Way in Warren County,” said Mark Buys, chairman of the board of the local United Way, also pointing out there was more money coming in and time in the official campaign to raise it.

Buys also noted the organization in 2005 exceeded its goal under an unusual and difficult situation. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had just blown through Mississippi and Louisiana, leaving many without homes, jobs and incomes. In addition to helping those people with time, work and money, the citizens of the United Way’s coverage area still were willing to dig a little deeper to help the member agencies.

&#8220I’m just the cheerleader,” Guizerix said, giving the credit for exceeding the goal to the volunteers and the United Way staff.

&#8220The staff is second to none,” he said. &#8220They network so well with the community.”

But, he said, the volunteers did a fantastic job in canvassing the community for pledges and donations. &#8220They were thinking creatively.”

Recalling the previous time, in the late 1990s when the local United Way regularly exceeded its goals every year by wide margins, Guizerix said there were many local individuals and locally run companies competing with each other to support the United Way. There are fewer of those now, but the divisional chairmen came up with other ways to achieve the goal.

&#8220I had a good cabinet,” he said.

Barbara Tolliver, local United Way president and chief professional officer, was also excited the fundraising agency had exceeded the goal.

&#8220The need is very great in our community,” she said.

She, too, complimented the volunteers.

&#8220We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” she said.

The member agencies that receive help from the United Way are: