United Way ‘Keeping It Fun’ 

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Sept 30, 2007 - Hopkins County United Way Friday hosted a special luncheon thanking its corporate sponsors for their generous contributions last year and in the past. The lunch was also the corporate kick off of the 2007-2008 campaign which will span the month of October.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

HCUW President Bob Weaver presents Malcolm Kirkland with a copy of the shirt used to promote a basketball free throw event when Kirkland was campaign chair in 1985. Kirkland recounted themes and different events used to promote HCUW during his service as a HCUW officer at Friday’s annual kick-off luncheon, including the time he was pitted against an “all state” free throw champion. 

Representatives from the top 15 businesses were recognized for the contributions to last year’s fund drive. Grocery Supply Company, Sulphur Springs Independent School District, Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, United Parcel Service and Alliance Bank were all noted to have contributed $7,500 or more to the 2006-2007 drive. Flowserve and Hanna Construction donated at least $5,000 each. Oncore Electric Delivery, Sulta Manufacturing Company, City National Bank, Clayton Homes, City of Sulphur Springs, Echo Publishing, Jeld-Wen and Ocean Spray Cranberries were all also noted for contributing at least $2,000 each.

Alliance Bank was noted for sponsoring the food, and Chad Young and staff thanked for allowing the lunch to be held at The Lodge. Grocery Supply Company provided the marketing material and brochures.

The United Way officers this year, instead of asking one person to be the keynote speaker, asked five successful businessmen to share their experiences as past HCUW campaign chairmen and presidents. Executive Secretary Charlotte Henderson came up with the idea after going through an old box with newspaper clippings from past campaigns from 1978 on, which she then put in order and filled two scrapbooks which were on display Friday.

In keeping with this year’s theme, “Keeping It Fun With Hopkins County United Way,” set by Campaign Chair Randal Voss, the speakers, in addition to explaining why the cause was important to them, also shared fun anecdotes from their two years as top campaign officials.

Voss, prior to introducing the speakers, noted that Hopkins County United Way provided funding to a number of groups and agencies which assist children and families, who “can’t have fun because they don’t have funding for basic needs and safety.” He encouraged everyone to keep the campaign fun for those kids, to raise funds so they don’t have to worry and can have fun being kids.

Henderson gave a brief history of the program’s beginnings in October of 1955 when Bill Frailey pitched the idea to the Chuck Wagon Gang, named because of their regular patronage of Chuck Wagon Restaurant. They set their goal at $29,500. When the final count was in, they had raised $133 over their goal.

Joe Bob Burgin, president and owner of Joe Bob’s stores, served as campaign chair then president for the 1977-1978 campaigns. The goal was set at $39,000. The fundraiser generated $40,000.

Burgin, the first speaker, said although he couldn’t remember what it tasted like he recalled having a red and blue pie thrown in his face after the campaign surpassed its goal. He also noted that as a result of serving as a United Way board, he formed “a lot of long-lasting friendships.”

Henderson noted that in addition to Joe Bob, every member of his family also served on the board in one capacity or another.

The second speaker, Malcolm Kirkland, served as HCUW officer from 1985-1986. He noted different themes and things tried over the years during the United Way campaigns. He recalled a free throw contest he agreed to participate in without realizing he would be up against a previous “all state” competitor, and the shirts promoting it. Campaign co-president Bob Weaver presented him with another copy of the shirt at the meeting as fond keepsake.

Kirkland on a more serious note said that serving United Way fires you with “the satisfaction of knowing you reached the goals of United Way to help the county.”

“When we talk about how United Way helps, we’re talking about people from all walks of life in Hopkins County. The funding goes to these groups and stays in Hopkins County,” Kirkland said. “It encourages you, facilitates people interacting with others.”

He recounted a story of a “tough nut” civic leader who was “rough and tough but had a heart of gold,” and refused to participate in Hopkins County United Way. After speaking with the man, Kirkland learned his reluctance was due to HCUW’s support of Boy Scouts, because “parents pay fees” to support the agency and he felt HCUW shouldn’t be asked to do so. Even after Kirkland visited with him and explained that the man could designate to which agencies he wanted his contribution to go, and that he would personally ensure no portion of his donation went to Boy Scouts, the man still refused.

The next year, HCUW invited the civic leader and businessman to serve on HCUW’s budget and allocations committee to voice his opinions regarding Boy Scouts, and help make the difficult decisions regarding who gets what amount of funding. The man did indeed agree to serve on the board, and was vocal about his disapproval of Boy Scouts. The final allocation included funding for Boy Scouts. When the donation packet was picked up from the man’s business, Kirkland noted that it was empty. Kirkland went back to the business and handed it back to the man, encouraging him to give.

“If you don’t, I’m going to put $50 in it and designate it all to Boy Scouts. With a smile, he took it back. This time when he gave it back it was not empty,” Kirkland recalled.

“I always thought it wasn’t that he didn’t not want to give. He wanted someone to relate to him on his terms. He did. I did and we all did. I hope you relate to their [potential contributors’] terms and reach your goal,” Kirkland said in closing.

Wayne Galyean said his years as a HCUW officer can also be marked by the NFL’s partnership with United Way, which set new campaign records as the most raised from one effort for a cause. He also recalled United Way’s origins. It started from four ministers of different denominations’ efforts to create and give back to the community.

He noted that the Bible says to “‘Do unto others.’ That’s what others are supposed to do. It also says that ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’ United Way gives back, and we have to keep on giving.”

Stacy Cody joked he was more afraid of having to tell Charlotte Henderson he would be missing the Oct. 1 campaign kickoff because he had gone to see the doctor and been immediately hospitalized for kidney stones.

Henderson thought it was a joke and told him he’d “better be on your way to the funeral home.” Eventually the seriousness of it was imparted and she went from the kickoff to see him at the hospital.
The point of the tale was to note the seriousness of the drive for the agencies it serves and how dedicated the HCUW campaign workers are to reaching the annual goal to assist others, especially Henderson who takes it to heart.
“If you’re not willing to stand up and be involved and be a leaders, who will? Be a leader. Think of Charlotte and the NFL. If we don’t get involved, who will? I feel it is a gift – leadership. Everyone here has the gift or you would not be here and where you are with your business. I encourage everyone to use your gift,” Cody implored of the corporate representatives present at the lunch.

Henderson noted that 1997-1998 officer Steve Shing had a big job — he chaired the campaign to raise a whopping $120,000. “And wow, he did it. Who could say no to a great guy like Steve Shing. As he said then ‘the key is raising the level of awareness,’” Henderson noted.

Shing said his years as a HCUW officer “were the most rewarding experience.” He said he is thankful to Grocery Supply for allowing him the opportunity to serve HCUW as well as their continued encouragement of employees to get involved in the community and serving others. He said his times serving on national, regional and state committees through his work in no way pale in comparison to the time he served as an officer on Hopkins County United Way.

He said his commitment to HCUW stems from personal experience with hard times. Shing grew up along with four other siblings in Dallas. When he was 10, his father got an opportunity for a job in New York. His dad traveled to New York but the job didn’t work out. His dad stayed in New York trying to find a job so he could send money back to his wife and five children still in Dallas. Finances continued to be tighter each day. At Thanksgiving, the family wasn’t sure what they would eat, but that they didn’t let on to anyone else outside their immediate family how hard times were. Someone noticed. People from “some agency came up on Thanksgiving Day and brought us a box with food, a turkey and other things.”

“I, as a boy of 10 years, was able to see personally the benefits of agencies that help others,” Shing said. “The art of giving is to give something to someone else you truly cherish.”

Shing said GSC challenges its employees to question “‘Who are we and why we are here?’ God has us here. We are here to help and serve each other. We ask periodically are we on our mark? If not we adjust and set other goals so we meet the need. ... In giving we receive. .. It is not necessary for each of us here to benefit from an agency. It is our responsibility to give. We all have that responsibility. I leave you with one question. Who are we and why are we here?”

Before the lunch concluded, Henderson recognized Larry Crowson for making history by volunteering to serve as United Way campaign chairman for a second year after failing to meet his goal the first year. That meant his second year, he would not only serve as HCUW chair but also as president since a champaign chair commits to two years of service, the first as chair and the second as president. Despite his double duties, Crowson’s second campaign came up trumps meeting the $114,000 campaign goal.

Deanna Landers, who served as president last year and campaign chair two years ago, was recognized because “no one in history has had as much fun as she did as chair.” Bob and Peggy Weaver, this year’s co-presidents, were recognized as the first two-person team to chair HCUW, as well as for “hitting one out of the park” with the funds raised during last year’s campaign. Last year’s goal was $140,000. To date, $149,687 in HCUW donations have been turned in.

Bob Weaver, on behalf of the current board and officers, past presidents and chairmen, and “a few people not involved on the board,” presented Henderson with a travel voucher and Visa card as a special thank you for all of her hard work and dedication to HCUW. Henderson started her 30th years as executive secretary for HCUW with this campaign.

“You’d think she gets a six figure salary the way she works. Her priority is United Way and the community. She always gives credit to everyone else,” Weaver noted.

Henderson, who rarely is at a loss for words, offered only a simple “Thank you, so much!” upon receiving the gift.

Voss in closing reminded that the workers’ kickoff lunch will be Friday, Oct. 5, at Southwest Dairy Museum, and that all of the local banks will be working together to host a cookout Nov. 2 to benefit HCUW.

This year’s goal is $145,00 for 16 agencies.

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