02/25/07 — United Way recognizes Albertson at annual meeting

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United Way recognizes Albertson at annual meeting

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 25, 2007 2:09 AM

The United Way of Wayne County gathered Thursday afternoon to celebrate its successful 2006 fundraising campaign and to recognize one of the organization's long-time volunteers -- Dr. Kay Albertson.

Mrs. Albertson, who has been involved with United Way for a number of years, most recently served as vice president of community investment. She was honored with the Emil Rosenthal Volunteer of the Year Award. It is named for past president Emil Rosenthal and is United Way of Wayne County's most prestigious award.

"United Way is not to be seen as a fundraiser, but as a method to change and improve lives," said Don Magoon, the 2003 recipient. "We accomplish this through our community investment process and involve scores of volunteers.

"United Way demands of this process the highest degree of accountability, which is achieved through an unbiased review of funding requests, site visits and financial analysis."

At the head of that process last year was Mrs. Albertson, who also overcame a fear of heights to take a leap with fundraising campaign chairman Geoff Hulse as he fulfilled his skydiving promise in January after the Bring It On campaign reached 100 percent of its $1.44 million goal.

"She has a concern for the welfare of those in our community who need a helping hand, the ability to motivate others and to do these things without bias or favoritism," Magoon said.

For Mrs. Albertson, it was an honor to share the award with such past recipients as Hulse, Magood, Don Barnes Jr. and Jane Rustin.

"It's not about an individual," she said. "It's about a team. It's the team that makes the difference in people's lives, and I'm honored to be a part of that team."

That focus on the difference made in people's lives was at the center of the United Way's fundraising efforts last year with its Portraits of Promise campaign.

The Portraits of Promise was a five-week series of profiles on individuals in Wayne County whose lives were helped and improved by programs supported by United Way.

"As a community we came together with a promise to work to provide Wayne County's people a promise for a better life," Hulse said. "Together, we can give people a promising life by offering a helping hand up, not a hand out.

"That is what United Way does in partnership with 14 community organizations and institutions."

One of those organizations is the American Red Cross.

One of those featured individuals was Penelope Scoggins-Taylor, who also was recognized Thursday.

Mrs. Taylor, 28, was the victim of a 1993 automobile accident.

She said that later, after she had recovered, she was told that when the rescue squad arrived that she was lucky she was lying facedown on the pavement, because had she been on her back, she would have drowned in her own blood.

Her injuroes were so extensive that she was in a coma for 10 days and required so many blood transfusions that her mother lost count.

The American Red Cross' blood services program is one of the many that the United Way has helped support over the years.

"Without the United Way and the blood and the Red Cross, I wouldn't be here today," Mrs. Taylor said.

Today, she's married to Aaron Taylor and is the mother of two girls, ages 2 and 5.

And that is the kind of result that United Way will be continuing to work toward, said Hulse, who is the incoming vice president of community investment.

"Last year, we brought it on. The United Way is a strong community force because it's made of people in the community," he said. "This year, so that we can continue to focus on the emerging issues facing people in our community, we will conduct a community needs assessment and with the results of that survey, a framework from which to work to impact the important issues in our community will be developed.

"Our focus is on community and not on the financial needs of local organizations. We will continue to base all of our decisions on community investments in programs on demonstrated impact and measurable outcomes.

"We fund results not budgets."

That survey has been mailed out to 4,200 Wayne County residents. The United Way is asking for them to be returned by Friday.