United Way tops goal, sets plan

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 19, 2010

About 230 United Way of West Central Mississippi members celebrated exceeding their 2009 campaign’s goal of $1.4 million Thursday.

At the event, newly elected board chairman Felicia Gavin, general manager for DiamondJacks Casino, said she plans to follow the formula used in the 2009 campaign under Todd Boolos.

“I’m going to continue the efforts of the previous chair,” she said. “Through these tough economic times, I think it’s really important that we step up to the plate. This is the time the needs are the greatest.”

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The local United Way chapter is a franchise of the national organization. Its purpose is to use volunteers and a small staff to raise money for local service groups, which usually also have small staffs. The program allows member agencies to concentrate on services, not raising money.

Volunteers raised $1,423,977, mostly through corporate gifts, payroll deduction plans and individual pledges, during the 2009 campaign. It will be allocated among 20 member agencies this year. The increase from 2008’s $1,347,180 was noteworthy due to increases in unemployment and a slow business climate.

“I think we did a great job,” Gavin said. “We exceeded our campaign goal. That was a credit to our campaign chair. It was tough, but we met our goal and exceeded our goal. It was a good year.”

Boolos, an accountant and principal in Boolos CPA Firm, presented Robyn Lea of State Farm Insurance with the Campaign Chairman Award and commended her efforts with the campaign cabinet.

“They had a plan and worked to execute the plan, which included contacting new businesses, setting up phone banks and reaching out to friends and neighbors for their support,” Boolos said.

Lea then acknowledged the efforts of Susan Loflin Johnston of Vicksburg Insurance Agency with the Pacesetter Campaign, composed of 10 local companies and the Vicksburg Warren School District.

The Bruce Alan Ebersole Jr. Memorial Scholarship Award was presented to Warren Central High School student Eddie Hamilton, son of Kim and Chris Martin. The scholarship program was named for a charter member and the first president of Teen HELP, an auxiliary for adolescents.

Other 2009 United Way award winners were:

• Gail Kavanaugh of the Vicksburg Warren School District, Volunteer of the Year.

• Mark Buys, president of BancorpSouth, Leadership Award.

• Ameristar, Corporation of the Year.

• Patsy Hammack VWSD transportation department, Campaign Coordinator of the Year.

• Entergy Grand Gulf, Traveling Leadership Award.

• Chris Chatham of Ameristar, Donor Investment Chair.

• Sharon Hanks with Engineering Research and Development, Donor Investment Volunteer of the Year.

• Herb Wilkinson of the YMCA, Agency Director of the Year.

• LeTourneau Inc., Spirit of Vicksburg Award.