The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 5, 2013

United Way hopes campaign has ‘impact’

Dave Sutor

JOHNSTOWN — United Way of the Laurel Highlands wants to raise $1.1 million within the next few months.

The nonprofit organization announced its goal during a kickoff breakfast for its 2013 fundraising campaign on Thursday inside the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s Living Learning Center.

The agency set the total after collecting $1,042,000 during last year’s drive.

“My strategy for meeting the 2013 campaign goal of $1.1 million is to reach out to long-term United Way partners and supporters and challenge them to expand their base by increasing the percent of participation by their employees and asking their employees to increase their average contribution level,” said the chairwoman of this year’s campaign, Rebecca Styles, president and general manager of Lockheed Martin AeroParts.

When further discussing her plan, Styles added, “If I had to sum up the 2013 campaign in one word, it would be ‘impact.’ All efforts are focused on making an impact.”

Money raised will then go toward helping the United Way’s 27 partner agencies throughout Cambria and Somerset counties.

The United Way will collect money from businesses, organizations and individuals, including Lockheed Martin, which already pledged $10,000.

“Every year is different with the United Way campaign. I have the pleasure – our staff and our volunteers – have the pleasure of working with so many dynamic people in the community that want to give back,” said Bill McKinney, United Way of the Laurel Highlands president.

“This year is no exception.”

The local United Way chapter plans to focus its financial efforts in five key areas: helping children and youth succeed, strengthening and supporting families, promoting self-sufficiency, supporting vulnerable and aging populations, and promoting health and wellness.

The organization wants to address three causes of family problems in the region: disengaged parents, drug and alcohol abuse, and lack of support for early childhood development.

“In this nation, in order to pursue your dreams and to succeed, you have to be educated,” said U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson, the breakfast’s keynote speaker.

“Disengaged parents and drug and alcohol abuse are two factors in people not succeeding in school.”

Greater Johnstown School District’s superintendent, Gerald Zahorchak, is the event’s vice-chairperson.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Dave_Sutor.