United Way thanks leaders of most generous companies
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dr. Rick Fowler, a motivational speaker and executive director of Prestonwood Counseling Centers, spoke Friday during an appreciation luncheon  featuring officers from the many corporations and industries which supported last year’s local United Way campaign. Also pictured, left to right, are Deanna Landers, Hopkins County United Way Chairman; Cathy Chitwood, Hopkins County United Way President; David Brewer, Community Bank President; and Jeri Fowler, wife of Rick Fowler.
Staff photo by Angela Pitts

Oct. 9, 2005 -- In an effort to show appreciation for the many corporations and businesses for their contributions last year and in the past, Hopkins County United Way hosted a special thank-you kickoff rally Friday at The Lodge for the top officers of some of its largest work force contributors.

Keynote speaker Dr. Rick Fowler, executive director for Prestonwood Counseling Center and author of 10 books, addressed two questions: why the company leaders were invited and why  Sulphur Springs needs an organization like United Way.

He noted that the company leaders have set an example for their employees which has resulted in more giving to the United Way, which in turn meant more assistance to neighbors through the agencies assisted by United Way.

�We all have needs and are only one step away from situations which can drastically change our lives. We should have an altruistic world view. Like John F. Kennedy said, �Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.� Serving with a heart altruistic is the rent we pay for the space we occupy. We have a mandate to give, I believe,� Fowler said Friday.

He also noted that without a strategic plan, the United Way goal, like that of any other organization with good intentions, would never materialize. Thus, the importance of this year’s campaign slogan, “Stepping Up, Reaching Out The United Way.” Fowler touched on all three primary objectives outlined in the campaign.

�Stepping up,� according to Fowler, whose career has included 18 years of experience as a psychology professor, athletic director and head basketball coach at two universities, means that community leaders stepping forward as role models to set an example to those they represent.

Fowler noted a young baseball player he once coached who “could have been an awesome ballplayer but he wouldn’t step up to the plate” when it was his turn at bat. “I told him, ‘If I had your skill, I’d be a pro.’ He didn’t have the confidence to grit his teeth and say, ‘I’m gonna do it.” You as leaders in Sulphur Springs as role models say, ‘I’m gonna do it,’ and in doing so rub off on those in  the community and schools you represent.”

�Reaching out,� implies that those leaders are willing to step outside their comfort zones to promote giving beyond themselves, which ultimately produces a return of good to the leaders and organizations they represent.

Fowler described a situation in which he was forced to reach beyond his comfort of having an instructor fly with him all the time after extensive lessons in flying an airplane. When it was time to fly solo, he initially balked at taking to the air. However, he eventually did take the pilot’s seat and flew, because he did have the teaching and knew in order to accomplish his goal of flying he would have to do it himself,  butterflies and all.

The speaker encouraged those present at the luncheon to put their head up and move forward to “create to giving beyond your comfort zone. The return will be good to you and the organization you represent.”

Fowler noted that the last three words of the slogan “The United Way” implies placing trust in a proven and reliable agency, in this case Hopkins County United Way, and working together as a collective group for the good of 15 agencies served by HCUW.

He noted a time when a college basketball team was pitted against professional athletes to prepare them for the Olympics. The college team beat the professional players because they functioned as a team while the professionals did not function as well as a team, nor did they play with the unity and harmony seen with the college players.

�You can go out and do this individually, but collectively we can reach out and do a better job of reaching the goal,� Fowler said.

He noted that United Way funnels funds to those who need them through allocations, which represent contributions from the community. By working together, the contributions ensure the 15 agencies designated to benefit from this year’s HCUW campaign are able to offer the services to those in need.

Fowler encouraged the corporate lunchers to step with confidence, reach beyond their comfort zones to try to surpass last year’s goals and be players of presence of member of the United Way team.

He challenged them do as John Wesley once wrote, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the paces you can, to all the people you can.”

Fowler said that “by reaching as many people with as many funds to minister to the community, one day they will give back to you.”

�Our goal is $135,000. We raise more last year. If you do the same good job and work as hard or harder, I know we will meet that goal. If we raise more, that�s OK too. We�ll just be able to give them more,� HCUW Campaign Chairman Deanna Landers urged those present. �This room represents those who have stepped up to the plate in the past. This year will be a successful year with your help and leadership if you give this year as you have given in the past.�

HCUW President Cathy Chitwood recognized Alliance Bank, City National Bank, city of Sulphur springs, Clayton Homes, Coca-Cola Dr. Pepper Bottling Company, Echo Publishing, Fidelity Express, Grocery Supply Company, Hanna Construction, Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, Jeld Wen, Ocean Spray, Sulphur Springs Independent School District, Sulta Manufacturing Company and United Parcel Service as the top 15 contributors to the 2004-2005 HCUW campaign.

Several others businesses, facilities and agencies were also recognized for making contributions of $500 or more to last year’s campaign, which was so successful HCUW was able to allocate an additional $1,000 to each benefiting agency at the end of the drive.

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