United Way of Mark Twain Area reaches 90 percent of campaign goal; area donors encouraged to donate to help cover $50,000 funding gap

Volunteers and area officials celebrated the team effort to raise 90 percent of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area campaign goal during their 67th annual meeting Thursday, Feb. 7. During the next few weeks, officials will be reaching out for donations to help cover a funding gap of just under $50,000.

Executive Director Denise Damron said donors throughout the region worked together to close in on the campaign goal of $400,000, and money comes in each day. Damron will be knocking on doors to help cover the funding gap.

She joined 2018-2019 Campaign Vice President Jill Janes in commending the individuals, organizations and businesses who donated to help the United Way provide funding and resources so nonprofit organizations can continue to provide programs to help members of their communities in Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties.

“We are very blessed with a very supportive community, as well as the groups and individuals, that truly want to see the organization succeed in the community and do good work,” Damron said.

Janes thanked area businesses for their generosity during the meeting, saying Workplace Campaigns accounted for 77 percent of campaign donations so far — including employee donations and matching gifts from employers. She also honored individual donors who gave more than $1,000 through Special Gifts or Workplace Campaigns.

Damron commended Janes for her dedication to the campaign as vice president. Justin Gibson will serve as the 2019-2020 campaign vice president. Damron presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to outgoing Board Chair Roy Hark, saying “his passion for the United Way is contagious.”

Damron stressed the importance of covering the funding gap so that each area nonprofit organization who is a United Way recipient can receive the support they need.

“Over the next few weeks, I'll definitely be knocking on doors to ensure that we are able to come up with those dollars to continue working toward our mission in the community,” she said. “That is what we need to make the magic happen for the organization.”

Damron said all donations the United Way receives remain in the area, and there are countless community members who reflect the United Way's motto, “Be the Change.” The upcoming Evening of Philanthropy will honor area individuals in four categories: Lifelong Philanthropist, the late Ralph Griesbaum; Philanthropic Couple, Kevin and Denice Blew of Clarence; Philanthropic Individual Kate Dougherty; and Philanthropic Youth, Robert Wealer. Damron said videos are being developed to show during the event at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9 at the Star Theatre.

“We know these people do such great and amazing work, but when you hear them share their testimony and listen to individuals talking as well about the work they did and/or do — it is just phenomenal and so inspiring,” she said.

And Damron hopes to witness inspiring moments as she reaches out to donors to help reach the campaign goal.

“I encourage all individuals in our community to be a United Way donor,” she said. “That's because the dollars that are invested within the organization do such great work, and I would hope that anyone would want to empower individuals within their community to achieve their potential. By being a United Way donor, that's what you're able to do.”

For more information about giving to the United Way or attending the Evening of Philanthropy, call 573-221-2761 or visitwww.unitedwaymta.org.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com