The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 21, 2014

United Way announces $1,230,000 in campaign donations

Proceeds of more than $1,230,000 for the 2013 campaign year were announced Friday by officials of the Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas United Way.

Logan Stanley, campaign co-chairman, made the announcement at a wrap-up breakfast held in Joplin. He praised the efforts of volunteers, who he said had “rallied to make our communities a better place to live and work.”

Campaign officials, volunteers and representatives of member agencies filled the Continental Banquet Center for the event, which honored volunteers, major donors and others involved in the campaign. Ron Pence of Arvest Bank received the United Way “Spirit of Caring” award for his 14 years of service to the organization. Kris Crotts, of Baxter Springs schools, received the campaign volunteer of the year award for Southeast Kansas, and Steve Stone, of Modine Manufacturing, was named the top volunteer for Southwest Missouri.

Board member Terry Wachter presented the award to Pence, saying his efforts “embodied United Way values.”

“He is a consistently reliable volunteer who has always given of his time, talent and dedicated performance,” she said. “He’s given 14 years to the United Way board, as president and in all other leadership roles, and he’s now serving on the executive committee once again.”

She noted Pence also served as campaign chairman in 2001, after the 9-11 attacks and in 2008, during the economic downturn, “both times when local fundraising was so challenging.”

Pence described the honor as “a lifetime achievement award,” and said, jokingly, that he’ll pass on future assignments as campaign chairman “because every time I do, something bad happens.”

The United Way supports 37 agencies offering 61 programs that provide services for individuals and families in the region.

The Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri in Joplin is one of the organizations that receives United Way support, which has helped the club expand services to the more than 250 youngsters who use its programs each weekday, said Rhonda Gorham, executive director.

“Their funding represents about one-eighth of our income there,” she said. “It’s a big chunk and it helped us stay open during snow days this winter when schools were closed.”

Gorham said the club schedule normally mirrors that of Joplin schools, but officials decided they needed to operate during snow days because many of the parents of youngsters using their activities had to go to work.

“More than half of our kids are from single-parent homes and their options are even more limited,” she said. “If they have to miss work, their pay gets cut and it makes things even more difficult for the family.”

Gorham has served as executive director for the past six years and said club participation has grown significantly over that period.

“When I started, we had about 100 kids each day; now it’s over 250,” she said. “Our enrollment is about 340 kids.”

The club provides services for school-aged children including physical activities, health and wellness, reading, and an after-school homework session called “power hour.”

“We don’t believe in free time, here,” she said. “We just started a new reading program that gives kids access to thousands of books on computer. We tie it in to what they’re doing in school, and we try to make it fun. We also do one-on-one tutoring with about 50 kids.”

Bev Crispino-Graham, United Way executive director, noted the organization’s emphasis on providing help with education, health and income needs, and said agencies that fulfill that role “are dealing with more problems with fewer resources.”

Among other to be recognized during the breakfast, Empire District Electric was named the top large company campaign in Southwest Missouri, while Miller’s Professional Imaging won the award among Kansas companies. For mid-sized companies, honors went to Missouri Gas Energy in Southwest Missouri and Commerce Bank of Pittsburg in Southeast Kansas. The small company award for Missouri was presented to PCS Phosphate, and Girard National Bank in Southeast Kansas.

Collections this year represented nearly 95 percent of this year’s campaign goal of $1.3 million. Donations still can be made by calling 624-0153 or online at www.unitedwaymokan.org.

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