United Way campaign reaches goal

ST. MARYS — As of Thursday morning, the United Way of Auglaize County raised $285,000 for its 2011 campaign, just $15,000 shy of its $300,000 goal — and a few phone calls to two Wapakoneta businesses made a big difference.

“This morning, (United Way of Auglaize County Executive Director) Randy (Fisher) and I were on the telephone, and at one point, I thought he was going to come through the telephone line to get a high five,” Campaign Chair Rex Katterheinrich said at the fourth annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon Thursday afternoon.

Fisher told Katterheinrich that the employees of American Trim had committed $3,671 to the United Way of Auglaize County campaign and American Trim’s corporate chipped in an additional $10,000, bringing the campaign close to its goal.

“Obviously we were edging up on that $300,000 goal,” Katterheinrich said, noting that he told Fisher to contact G.A. Wintzer & Son, one of the handful of corporations that had yet to report its results.

The company committed $2,000 to the United Way of Auglaize County.

“From yesterday at this time until today, we’ve gone from $285,000 to $300,671,” Katterheinrich said. “We obviously are very, very happy with that information. We don’t think that’s quite the end of that …. We started out with a goal of $300,000, and we have achieved that.”

Katterheinrich thanked volunteers for their support.

“I want to thank all of you,” Katterheinrich said. “Thank you very much for all the support that you have given, not just for the campaign, but for before the campaign and into the future.”

Fisher said he also was thrilled with the achievement.

“We’re extremely thrilled for all the effort that everybody has put forward and the fact that we’re able to announce positive results,” Fisher said.

He noted that the community working together and the leadership of Katterheinrich helped the organization reach its campaign goal.

“We brought our county together in ways that many didn’t think was possible and under the extreme, great dedication of this year’s campaign chair, we were able to finally announce that we made that goal that we set for ourselves,” Fisher said.

Volunteers were also recognized at the luncheon for their dedication and support of the United Way of Auglaize County and its 20 partner agencies. For this year’s Agency Testimonial, Catholic Social Services was spotlighted.

“We are so appreciative to be a recipient of United Way of Auglaize County dollars,” Catholic Social Services Development Coordinator Kim Custen-border said. “With the dollars that we receive, we use those for counseling services. We believe that seeking out professional help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. We’re very fortunate with the dollars that we receive that we’re in four locations here in Auglaize County.”

Volunteers heard the story of a couple that has adopted three children through Catholic Social Services, who were grateful for the help they received from the organization and the experiences they have had with their three girls.

Custenborder thanked volunteers for their support and noted that funding from the United Way of Auglaize County is essential to Catholic Social Services.

“Thank you for all the help you do in helping the United Way raise the dollars that you allocate to us,” Custenborder said. “We appreciate those dollars. We couldn’t do what we’re doing – strengthening individuals and families through faith, service and charity and giving these families what they want, a life and happiness.”

United Way of Auglaize County Finance Coordinator Joy Winget updated attendees on the partnership with the Ohio Benefit Bank.

“The United Way of Auglaize County and the Benefit Bank help connect people with resources that they’re not aware of,” Winget said. “The Benefit Bank is an internet-based counselor assisted program that helps low income to moderate income individuals and families file tax credits for benefits and things that they’re eligible for. It’s a free service. Through the Ohio Benefit Bank, the program, with the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks, the United Way served 168 clients this past year, saving them close to $17,000 just in filing fees.”

Fisher said reaching the campaign goal was exciting, but the county still needs more help.

“As excited as I am and as thrilled as we all are, we have to keep in mind that journey is just beginning,” Fisher said. “The $300,000 is an exciting number, but it’s the minimum threshold of what our county needs. If we’re going to do this job, if we’re going to pull our county together and make sure nobody falls through the cracks, we’ve got to continue to build on the success this year.”

Fisher noted there is still work to be done to improve the campaign.

“We have to continue to go out and work harder,” Fisher said. “Get more volunteers, bring more people together and continue to inspire Auglaize County to live united. I have to tell you that I think we’re there. We are right on the cusp of turning this county into a county that others will look at as an inspiration.

“This year has proved that it can be done,” he said. “We’re willing to do so as long as you’re willing to work and continue to step up and make a difference like you did this year.”