United Way gearing for campaign

ALBANY, Ga. -- While their campaign goals did fall a little short this year, officials with an area nonprofit say they are continuing to focus on the positive.

United Way of Southwest Georgia raised $1.2 million during its 2009 campaign, $300,000 less than the initial goal.

"We had some great campaign volunteers that worked hard. We're encouraged; this is a great number," said Marketing Director Brooke Peterman. "We will be able to do a lot of things with this money.

"We are not really focusing on falling short."

Based on this year's results, the organization remains optimistic about the future of agency funding.

"We anticipate agency funding will increase," Peterman said.

Several local companies earned pacesetter status by jump-starting their 2009 campaign, including Tara Foods, Palmyra Medical Center and Procter & Gamble.

Eighty-nine cents of every dollar raised by United Way goes directly to funding community programs. The next campaign is set to kick off in September.

United Way held its annual awards banquet Monday, at which several companies and community members were recognized for their contributions to the organization. Procter & Gamble was given the Community Ambassador Award for being the company to raise the most money. P&G employees donated $293,184 to the 2009 campaign.

Jane Willson and Ronnie and Brenda Hinson were the donors recognized as the 2009 Alexis de Tocqueville Society members for their contributions of $10,000 or more. Some of the other awards given out were the Best New Campaign Award, United Way Caring Connection Award, Campaign Partner Agency Award and the Rising to the Challenge Law Firm Award.

Volunteer awards were presented in four categories. Carleen Flowers of the SOWEGA Council on Aging won in the community service category, Mission:Change received recognition in the group category, and the Summer Youth Award went to Lee County High School student Jazzmine Mike. Freddie Coleman was presented with the Harry Goldstein Lifetime Volunteer Award.

"We thank our volunteers throughout the year," said United Way CEO Dwayne Myles. "We encourage them to give 365 days a year."

There are roughly 20 agencies with connections to United Way. The organization recently included Sumter County in its service area, making for a 12-county influence. The organization also has a new board chairman, Target Store Team Leader Lorenzo Keaton. Dan McCarthy of the Albany Housing Authority held the position previously.