Group Honors Locals

ST. MARYS — A countywide organization recognized a slew of volunteers who helped make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.

The United Way of Auglaize County held a Celebration and Appreciation Luncheon Thursday afternoon at the St. Marys Eagles. The event was a celebration of the accomplishments of the past year, an opportunity to recognize the hard work of its volunteers and present awards and to announce the results of its 2012 campaign.

“This is our wrap-up event,” Director Randy Fisher said. “We’re announcing how much money we raised in 2012, and all that money will be used by those (20 partner) agencies in 2013, which will allow them to achieve that mission.”

That mission, Fisher said, is providing basic needs, education, both academic and character, and health and wellness to the community.

“We’re going to celebrate how far we’ve come, recognize those who’ve gotten us here, and realize how far we have to go yet,” Fisher said.

The campaign goal of 2012 was to raise $315,000 after having raised $300,000 in 2011. That figure was the most money the organization has raised since 1998. It was a huge achievement, Fisher said. “(This year’s) goal was a stretch goal for us,” Fisher said. “The challenge is that we didn’t make it.”

Nevertheless, the more than $300,000 they did raise was no small number, he said, and the luncheon was a way to recognize that and thank everyone who contributed to making that number a reality.

 “I don’t have to sugarcoat to tell you it was a tough year,” Fisher aid, noting things could have been much worse, if not for the people sitting in the room.

“We did raise $301,000.”

Fisher then moved on to recognize the hard work that went into the campaign, changing the focus of the event to a positive one.

The first award, for Campaign Chair Recognition, Fisher presented to Anne Larger, Campaign Chair and Community Outreach Coordinator for Joint Township District Memorial Hospital.

Fisher described that her hesitancy to tackle the job did not prevent her from attacking it with 100 percent of her efforts.

She spoke to three different rotary clubs, he said, and “our campaign was bright because of the work she did” throughout the community.

Next, he recognized Dave Voisard and Cheryl Musto of AAP St. Marys with the Outstanding Campaign Award, for raising $14,246 — a significant improvement in their campaign, Fisher said.

The Day of Caring Award went to the Utilities Union of America Local 565.

“They have been a significant key player and we’re going to continue to build on that,” Fisher said.

He then moved on to recognize the Agency Volunteer of the Year, Rick Williams of Catholic Social Services.

“No matter what the event, he was there with a smile — whether it benefited his agency or not,” Fisher said.

The recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award was a particularly hard choice to make, Fisher said, because “so many volunteers have done so much for us.” Rich Spencer, an engineer at Crown Equipment, received the award.

“I’m not here to cede defeat or to celebrate victory,” Fisher said. “Our campaign goal was ambitious ... We can’t expect great results overnight, but we have to try,” he said.

One of the programs the United Way of Auglaize County hopes to expand upon in the future is its relationship with TSC in Wapakoneta.

“Chief Operating Officer Lonnie Pedersen understands where we are, how close we are, and that we need a good push,” Fisher said.

“And because of that he has given us this opportunity.”

Fisher said he hopes the organization and the county as a whole come together.

“One of the things we as a county have to do — we have to stop thinking of ourselves as Wapak and Celina and St. Marys,” he said.

“Until we overcome those rivalries, we’re never going to make it.”