augusta free press news

Staunton: United Way kicks off ’08 campaign

Story by Chris Graham

So I wasn’t the only one new to fundraising campaigns in the room at yesterday’s local United Way of Greater Augusta campaign kickoff.

“When I consider the huge number of people who depend upon the services supported by United Way, and the agencies and organizations that partner with the United Way to meet the needs of our Greater Augusta community, this is a daunting and awesome task. But it’s not about individual effort. It’s about team effort,” said Charles Curry, an educator at James Madison University and former member of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors who is serving as the 2008 campaign chairman for the local United Way effort.

Curry reminded those in attendance at the kickoff celebration at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton on Thursday that he’s never been involved in a campaign of this nature as its chair.

I can say the same for myself in terms of being new to the United Way. I was elected earlier this month to serve on the board of directors of the United Way of Greater Augusta, and I’m still very much learning the ropes, though it was nice to see so many familiar faces at the kickoff. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have been involved as a volunteer with United Way agencies like Big Brothers Big Sisters and CASA for Children and the Waynesboro YMCA, in addition to getting to know the day-to-day activities of several others as a journalist in this community for the past 13 years.

The next few months will give me an opportunity to learn what they do from a new and broader perspective, in addition to forcing me to take a more big-picture perspective on how the individual agencies work to meet the needs of the greater community more than I would get from seeing them work individually.

This year’s fundraising campaign promises to be a challenging one. The board, before I was elected, voted to set the goal for the campaign at $750,000, down from last year’s $800,000 goal, but a little ahead of what the organization actually raised in ’07.

The tough part to these kinds of endeavors is that the need is usually greater in times when the ability to raise the money to go toward meeting the need is lesser, and we’re expecting both of those factors to be in play in the coming months.

“The theme this year is Give, Advocate, Volunteer, Live United,” Curry said. “Our economy is not the best, but I will not use the economy as an excuse, but rather an opportunity. We’re fortunate in Augusta County to live in a region of the nation that because of our diverse economy we are somewhat sheltered from the seriousness of the economy that is felt in other areas. But even in Augusta County, yes, even here, the need next year will be far greater than ever before. And this is our challenge – to Live United,” Curry said.