(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
Darrick Johnson, family care plant manager at Procter & Gamble, will head up the 2012-2013 campaign.
"I'm excited. I've made a few calls, reached out to some people and got some new campaigns started," Johnson said at Thursday's campaign kickoff event held at Cape West 14 Cine. "Let's keep the excitement going."
Isle Casino Cape Girardeau will conduct its first campaign for the United Way of Southeast Missouri this year, said Isle of Capri spokeswoman Jill Alexander. The casino, which will open by Nov. 1, is expected to employ 450 people.
Signature Packaging and Paper in Jackson, The Gibson Recovery Center and VIP Industries will also conduct employee campaigns for United Way this year, said executive director Nancy Jernigan. While NARS hasn't agreed to do an employee campaign at this time, United Way campaign organizers have been meeting with the company about ways it could contribute this year, said Kim Voelker, campaign director.
This year's fundraising goal remains unchanged from last year, when contributions came in just a little short at $940,000.
The organization failed to meet its $1.01 million goal for 2010-2011, raising $935,216. Its 2009-2010 campaign brought in $1,142,858, less than its $1.2 million goal.
Goals are set based on estimates from the United Way's top 20 corporations. More than 100 companies in Southeast Missouri, including the Southeast Missourian, run United Way campaigns in their workplace, offering payroll deduction as an easy way for employees to contribute. Last year's top contributor was Procter & Gamble, which accounted for 1/3 of all contributions made last year.
While it has struggled to meet its campaign goals in recent years, needs served by the organizations it supports in the community continue to increase.
"Our funded partners are doing more with less and not complaining about it. It's amazing," said Jernigan.
Last year more than 400 people each month were connected to services through the United Way's First Call for Help program; 400 abused and neglected women and children received services through United Way programs and nearly 22,000 meals were served at the Salvation Army's Meals with Friends Program, which is supported by the United Way, according to organization figures.
"If we don't keep doing what we're doing, there are people who are counting on us who won't get what they need," Johnson said.
He challenged people to give 5 percent more to the United Way this year.
"If you give $100 a year, that's just $5 more. It doesn't have to be money, you can give 5 percent more of your time," he said.
The United Way's Read to Succeed program is searching for volunteers to fill tutor positions for this school year as it has expanded to all elementary schools in the Cape Girardeau School District. Ninety-eight percent of kindergartners in the Read to Succeed program were on or above reading level, the organization reported.
United Way is encouraging volunteerism now more than ever, Jernigan said,
"It gives people the opportunity to get more engaged in what we do," she said.
The United Way supports more than 50 programs in 36 local agencies.
The organization's efforts are highlighted in this year's campaign video, produced by KFVS12, which can be viewed online at www.unitedwayofsemo.org.
Since 1954, the United Way of Southeast Missouri has raised $23 million.
247 Siemers Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO