Mike McFarlane, 2013-14 campaign chairman for the United Way of the Mark Twain Area, gestured at the 200 people in attendance at the organization's annual meeting on Wednesday. "Look at all these people. Their diligence and work are touching all the people of the community," McFarlane said. The allocations committee did a survey and found that 40,000 people in the five-county area benefit in some way thanks to the United Way.
He applauded "the energy, commitment and time" that UW volunteers invested in order reach – and exceed the campaign goal.
Was there a time during the year that he was worried that the goal would not be met?
"Pretty much every day until today," McFarlane said. "The flow of cash is sporatic." When his nerves got the best of him, "Lou could calm me down."
The goal for the campaign was $580,000, and that dollar amount was exceeded by $3,000.
One of the challenging aspects of the campaign year came when Lou Lemen, long-time executive director, announced that she would be retiring this coming May.
After an extensive search and multiple interviews, the UW board hired Frank DiTillo, of Hannibal, as its new executive director.
He has the credentials required for the job, McFarlane said, plus passion. "He is one of the most ardent supporters of the United Way. Frank and his wife are always there" at events, even when they don't have to be. "His passion comes through in what he does. It will be a seamless transition."
There are a number of highlights of the United Way campaign in addition to fundraising.
• The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program collaborates with the University of Missouri Extension Service, the IRS, Retired Volunteer Service Program and local agency partners to provide free filing for low-income people. More than 500 returns were successfully filed through this program.
• The Loren G. Fohrman Venture Grants Awards are in their seventh year. The grant was made possible through the generosity of the late Mr. Fohrman, who wished to see his legacy live on through the programs that would improve the communities of Northeast Missouri. Recipients of this year's financial awards were Parents as Teachers, Toys for Tots and Future Well Being of Mankind (Paris, Mo.)
Also noted was the Stephen Covey Leadership Program that expanded to Veterans, Oakwood, Hannibal Middle School and Ralls County schools this year. Students from Eugene Field School provided the artwork gifts for 34 members of the United Way Leadership Giving Circle of supporters.
During the meeting, Steve Viorel, chairman of the nominating committee, introduced the new board members: Maria Mundle, Rhonda Leake, Donna Heiser, Justin Gibson, Dana Harvey, Connie Branstetter, Jessica Spurgeon and Joel Dant.
Retiring board members are: Steve Viorel, Frank DiTillo, Wendy Brumbaugh, Linda Wallace, Carol Ragar and Soneeta Grogan.
The next campaign chairman is Gary Broughton. He will be assisted by Andy Dorian.