By DIANE DIERKS
The United Way of the Wabash Valley held its 2006 campaign kickoff Friday on the campus of Ivy Tech State College, Terre Haute. The theme of this year's campaign is "What matters to us in the Wabash Valley."
The pilot campaign, which began July 5, has been very successful and according to Jim Bertoli, executive director, the United Way has already raised $880,000 of the overall 2.2 million dollar goal. There were 22 companies that participated in the pilot campaign.
Jessica Callahan, campaign director, introduced the video presentation that was produced by Miller-White and Indiana State University. The film featured individuals whose lives had been affected by programs sponsored by the United Way including, Council On Domestic Abuse, American Red Cross Wabash Valley Chapter and Alternatives for Learning and Living.
Carol Stevens, executive director of the local chapter of the American Red Cross was a featured speaker and shared that the United Way is the single largest donor to the American Red Cross in the Wabash Valley. The American Red Cross provides lifeguard certification and CPR and automatic defibrillator training which can be utilized on job sites.
Mayor Kevin Burke addressed the audience,expressing his appreciation for the local chapter that reached over 250,000 individuals in the Wabash Valley in 2005. He believes that the organization is so effective in the Wabash Valley because of its leadership, which allows people to give to the United Way with confidence. He also pointed out that money raised by the local chapter of the United Way stays in the Wabash Valley. He then proclaimed Aug. 25th as "United Way Day".
Jim Bertoli gave the closing remarks and asked the audience to join him in applauding the pilot companies for their early success of reaching 40 percent of the annual goal. He characterized the achievement as a "tremendous start" and asked the crowd to "encourage the rest of the community to take the lead that the pilot companies have taken."
According to Jessica Callahan, campaign director, the United Way of the Wabash Valley partners with 36 agencies and sponsors over 100 programs, which in 2005 gave assistance to more than 250,000 people in the local area. Donated funds are distributed among nine different fields of service after minimal administrative costs are covered. The United Way of the Wabash Valley is comprised of Vigo, Vermillion, Parke and Sullivan counties in Indiana and Clark County in Illinois. First Financial Bank, Clabber Girl, Ivy Tech State College and Simple to Elegant sponsored the program.