01/12/14 — United Way close to its goal

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United Way close to its goal

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on January 12, 2014 12:06 AM

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Timothy Bardecker, third from right, was the grand prize winner in United Way's annual Fair Share Challenge. He won a Mazda3 donated by Frema Motors.

Although the United Way of Wayne County did not reach its goal of raising $1.2 million in 2013, its campaign leaders are not calling the drive a failure.

There is more to the campaign than just raising dollars, said campaign Chairman Scott Stevens, Goldsboro's city manager, and Steve Parr, the organization's executive director.

The campaign has raised $1,133,108 to date, representing 93 percent of its goal. The goal had been increased by 8 percent over 2012 so the money raised this past year was actually only $3,000 less than was raised the previous year.

Given the still-troubled economic waters, that represents a success in many ways, they said.

"We're still going to be able to help a lot of people," Stevens said.

"In this economy, it was a real challenge," added Parr, who said the organization is still hoping to hit 94 percent before the campaign is completed. "But money is not the only measure of success in meeting the needs of people in the community. It goes beyond saying whether we met our goal or not."

Parr noted the startup of the Bank On Wayne program, which helps residents learn how to start a bank account and manage their money better. It is part of Literacy Connections, which aims to help illiterate residents to be able to read and write.

Wayne is the first county in the state to develop a program like Bank On Wayne.

"It's certainly disappointing that we did not reach the dollar amount we had hoped for," Parr said. "But we do take a lot of satisfaction in the fact that we have established a program that will help people manage their money."

The program fills a gap in the United Way's efforts to improve the lives of the county's citizens, he said.

"The idea is how to find ways to get more money into people's pockets," Parr said. "That was a huge success for us, to have it in place."

Stevens and Parr also noted the number of volunteers who took part in the campaign and in the drive to create the Bank On Wayne program.

And they also pointed to the increased number of volunteers who took part in the annual Days of Caring and the increased number of projects that were undertaken.

"Our partnerships continue to grow," Parr said. "And the fact that we were able to reach the level of success of last year, financially, considering the setbacks we've had, that's pretty remarkable."

Stevens said he believes the county will rally around United Way in the coming year and make this year's campaign even more successful than this past year's.

Parr agreed.

"We're looking forward to a strong year in 2014," he said.