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Opinion: Live united: Give, advocate, volunteer

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This headline represents the theme of the 2012 United Way Campaign.

I have long been an advocate and financial supporter of United Way. I served on the United Way board for 19 years in the '80s and '90s and was campaign chairman for three separate years.

Since leaving the board I have observed the United Way effort grow substantially in funds raised along with adding more service agencies. There has also been a major growth in the total number of people served by these agencies.

The total campaign donations, in recent years, have been relatively stagnant as we have experienced a slowing of our economy. However, the demand for services of citizens in need have continued to escalate within our service area.

I attended a breakfast last week attended by executives from local businesses and national corporations that represent the largest employee campaigns. The meeting was chaired by this year's campaign chairman Darrick Johnson, plant manager at Procter & Gamble. The keynote speaker was Rick McLeod, former plant manager here in Cape Girardeau and now go-to-market director for family care product supply for P&G in Cincinnati.

Procter & Gamble has long been a leading force in their total commitment to United Way and our community. Both Rick and Derrick radiated enthusiasm and passion for United Way and the need to fulfill the needs of our service area.

I got the distinct feeling that the United Way board and the campaign cabinet intend to make the 2012 campaign a breakout year that will exceed recent years' totals.

Denise Wimp, director of First Call for Help, spoke during the meeting of the great needs that come through her office via phone. She indicated that their office received more than 4,000 calls in the last year and directed each to the proper agency that could serve their particular need.

Other board members spoke of various specific cases where needs were met because resources were available through agencies funded by United Way.

Cape Girardeau and our surrounding area have grown significantly in the past several years. Cape Girardeau had a 7 percent increase in population in the last census and Cape Girardeau County population now exceeds 75,000 people. The growth that our community has been able to sustain also dictates a growing need for social services within the Cape Girardeau area.

Therefore, I would ask all our citizens to support this year's United Way campaign. When you support United Way you don't have to decide between helping children, families, seniors or individuals in crisis. Your gift covers the spectrum of needs in your community. Your money is put to work locally where you and your family live, work and play.

Please join me this year as we continue to live united!

Harry E. Rediger is the mayor of Cape Girardeau.

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Harry Rediger
Mayor's Corner: Harry Rediger
Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger is one of three local mayors writing weekly columns for the Southeast Missourian.