Meet the folks behind the United Way drive

Published 2:52 pm Saturday, August 16, 2008

How does all the work for United Way get done? Many volunteers are involved in getting this work done through educating and involving other members of the community, finding ways to help our partner agencies, and expanding the network of United Way. The work never ceases and would never get done if it weren’t for all the community members who are involved with the United Way of Freeborn County.

The work starts with personnel in the United Way office. Dave Bonnerup, executive director for the last two years, has been replaced by Ann Austin. Tiffany Hagan and I, co-chairwomen for the campaign, look forward to working with Ann. She is our leader. We have a very wonderful administrative assistant in Corinne Applegate. She is the backbone of theoffice. We will rely on her help all year.

The Board of Directors is an important part of United Way. These people volunteer their time to attend meetings every month, work on committees, and support many activities during the year. They are the decision makers and the voice of the community.

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Tiffany and I have selected a cabinet of people to help us. They are the people you will see at your workplace; they are the ones who work behind the scenes to help United Way continue its work.

Steve Merfeld volunteered to be deputy chairman. We are very happy to welcome Steve into our cabinet. He is a longtime member of Freeborn County who really understands United Way and has worked as a solicitor or advocate for some time.

Another part of our cabinet will work with major firms in Freeborn County. The members of this area are Dan Otten, Steve Bowron, Diane Simon and Gary Schindler. They will recruit people to help deliver pledge cards and information about United Way to manufacturing companies, banks, travel agencies, funeral homes and other major firms.

Other people who will be involved with this campaign include: Steve Merfeld, Dave Lembke and Tina Stripe, who will take care of general businesses. Ellen Kehr and Deb Tubbs will work with professional people. Chris Chalmers will distribute pledge cards to Albert Lea Area Schools. Barb Sorum will contact the public service agencies. Sue Callahan will work with the nursing homes, and Rhonda Allison will set up meetings with service clubs.

Irene Anderson, Michelle Severtson and Holly Krier work with the Freeborn County employees, and Phil Bartusek is the city coordinator. Jamie Hauer and Peggy Swenson will encourage the youth to learn more about giving. Mark Stadheim will contact people in the Heart Club. The Heart Club includes people who donate at least $500 per year to United Way. Tiffany and I will give presentations and educate the public about United Way.

Most of these people have worked on United Way committees for several years. We have cornered a new person to work with the businesses in the county. She is Rebecca Gisel. Angie Eggum, former co-chairwoman, will work with special events.

Each year a book is written and illustrated by someone and is distributed to kindergarten through second-grade children in the county. Tim Engstrom from the Tribune will write and illustrate the book this year.

As you can see it takes many volunteers from the community for United Way to get the job done. They live united every day by “walking the talk” and truly encourage the common good throughout Freeborn County.

This year’s goal or as we like to call it, “need,” is $592,000. Each of the volunteers will work hard to help us reach this need. Tiffany and I appreciate all the work they will do.

Sue Berg is a co-chairwoman for the 2008 fundraising campaign of United Way of Freeborn County.