01/12/07 — Wayne United Way honors volunteers

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Wayne United Way honors volunteers

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on January 12, 2007 1:51 PM

Forty-five minutes before he took the podium, United Way campaign chairman Geoff Hulse did not know if the community had managed to raise the $1.44 million it would have taken to make the organization's 2006 goal.

But right before the festivities began at the 2006 campaign recognition event, United Way executive director Steve Parr pulled him aside -- the goal had been reached.

"It was such a relief," Hulse said after the event Thursday, which honored donors and volunteers who contributed to the year's effort.

"I am humbled by and proud of what this community did when called upon to step up," he added.

Hulse spent most of the evening thanking those who gave, those who helped run the campaign and those who led the last-minute push to get the campaign past the 50 percent level.

In late November, Hulse said his mood was quite different.

With contributions slowing, he said he wasn't sure what would happen to the campaign.

"But I had faith," he said. "I believed this community would come through if we asked."

So, he came up with an idea -- a reward for achieving 100 percent.

He volunteered to jump out of an airplane -- and the Bring It On campaign was born.

Other "victims" were recruited -- Rep. Louis Pate agreed to pack pickles at Mount Olive Pickle at 60 percent; Mayor Al King served coffee at Starbucks at 70 percent; Sheriff Carey Winders peddled doughnuts at 80; and Cincinnati Reds Manager Jerry Narron read to two sessions of children at the Wayne County Library at 90 percent.

There were other contributions along the way -- Mount Olive organized its own fund-raising drive, with its own set of rewards, including a marriage between Mount Olive College director of student activities Julie Beck and the college mascot; children at Rosewood Elementary School raised $1,100 and got to eat lunch served by the faculty -- hairnets and all; and AAR Air Cargo general manager Gregg Miner was "arrested" and asked his employees to bail him out to raise funds for the campaign. The AAR Air Cargo donation also included a $5,000 contribution from the company's corporate office.

Dr. Steve Lies of the Wayne Women's Clinic challenged his staff to raise money and said he would match it -- resulting in a $1,300 donation; and the staff at the BB&T downtown office prepared dinner for their co-workers and raised $500.

Those were just a few of the local efforts, Hulse said.

"All of them raised money and our spirits," he added.

And in the end, 28,800 lives will be improved because of reaching that goal, Hulse said.

"It really isn't about the money or the goal," he said. "It is about helping people."

That message was manifested in the Portraits of Promise campaign, which featured photos of contributors with some of those who have been helped by organizations funded by the United Way.

The subjects of the photos in that display, which traveled around the county throughout the campaign, were also honored Thursday. They included beneficiaries Fred McNaught, Susie Potter, Elizabeth Jones, Penelope Taylor and Alexus Mewborn; and donors, Tasha Logan, Bethany Perry, John Langston, Carlos Cotto and Bonnie Gray.

Also honored Thursday were the winners of the Bush Andrews Award, which acknowledges organizations that have achieved 80 percent fair share giving with a 50 percent corporate match or 90 percent fair share giving. Those organizations honored included The Goldsboro News-Argus, Goldsboro Builders Supply, Moffatt Oil Co., United Way of Wayne County and Communities in Schools.

Also honored was Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep and dealer Hal Howard, who donated the 2007 Dodge Caliber for the Fair Share Challenge.

Awards were also presented to several businesses and organizations for their employee campaigns. Those honored with Campaign Chairman's Awards included Southco Distributing Co., $12,908; Excell Home Fashions, $15,317; J.J. Haines, $2,625; Wayne County Government, $31,990; APV Heat Transfer, $6,068; Daniels & Daniels Construction Co., $7,647; Strickland Insurance Co., $8,790; Franklin Baking Co., $12,835; Wayne Community College, $30,336; and Wayne County Public Schools, $117,894.

Criteria for the awards included the number of lives improved; percent increase in support; leadership giving; CEO involvement and support; and how the campaigns were conducted.

After more than a year of planning and weeks of non-stop work to get to the magic number, Hulse said although he enjoyed his skydive, he is looking forward to resting -- at least for a little while.

"This has been a great experience," he said. "I am proud to have been a part of this year's campaign. This truly was a community effort."