County United Way meets, exceeds goal

STEUBENVILLE – Anthony Mougianis enjoyed leading the 2013 United Way of Jefferson County campaign so much that he volunteered to do it again.

“I am pleased to announce we raised $445,229.60 during this campaign and finished at the 101 percent mark. It was the highest amount we ever raised in this county,” Mougianis told approximately 200 people attending the annual campaign report and recognition dinner held Thursday evening at Hellenic Hall.

The 2013 campaign goal was $440,000.

“We really had a terrific director in Beth Rupert-Warren. Her leadership was the key to this successful campaign,” Mougianis added.

“I volunteered to serve as the campaign chairman for 2014 because I felt that as successful as we were this year, we did it with three executive directors during the campaign. We started with one director, then had an interim director and now Beth Rupert-Warren is our director. I felt we didn’t have a complete opportunity to do even more tremendous things for our county. I know we can do even better,” Mougianis explained following the dinner.

The recognition dinner began with Rupert-Warren relating her favorite United Way story and ended with a candlelight moment to recognize the United Way of Jefferson County’s 19 member agencies.

“I was doing social work in 2003 when I received a phone call at 9 a.m. regarding a camper abandoned in the city’s South End. The police knocked on the camper door and a young woman came out bruised and beaten. Her boyfriend had a fight with her while they stopped in Steubenville. He unhooked his truck and left her and the camper in a city where she didn’t know anyone,” recalled Rupert-Warren.

“We took her to the local emergency room and then the A.L.I.V.E. shelter and then learned she was pregnant. From the A.L.I.V.E. shelter the young woman went to the City Rescue Mission where she stayed and then to the YWCA dormitory. All three organizations are United Way of Jefferson County member agencies,” continued Rupert-Warren.

Three years later, I attended the graduation ceremony at Eastern Gateway Community College and there was that same young woman, now a single mother, preparing to graduate. She went from homeless to graduate with honors. She and her son still live here where she has started a successful life. That’s what happens when you support the United Way and its member agencies,” cited Rupert-Warren.

Former Executive Director Suzanne Kresser took center stage to announce the Ohio United Way in Columbus is celebrating its 100th anniversary and has asked local United Way organizations to nominate special people to recognize this year.

“I am very pleased to tell you we have nominated the Trinity Health System E.C.H.O. fund that has raised $200,000 during the past 27 years for our United Way and also for individual member agencies. The Trinity employees always donate their time and money and serve as a pacesetter for our campaigns every year. If we lost the E.C.H.O fund we would be hard pressed to meet our campaign goals,” said Kresser.

“Our individual nomination is Darlene Colburn. She came to our community when her husband was transferred here. Darlene has served on our board of directors for nine years. She became a division campaign chair in 1987 and has now served as individual gifts campaign chair for the past 13 years. Darlene is an old-school volunteer who sends handwritten letters to everyone she approaches about giving to the United Way. She is a very special person,” stated Kresser.

The dinner and campaign report evening was the last official ceremony for Ross Gallabrese, executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, who served as president of the United Way of Jefferson County board of directors for the past two years.

“A president is only as successful as the board, and I have always said we have the hardest working board of directors in Jefferson County. The board and everyone sitting here tonight made the campaign work and helped us pass our goal,” Gallabrese said before handing his gavel to the new president, Dave France.

“I just hope I can fill your sandals,” replied France.

The annual Top Dog Award was presented to the Indian Creek Local School District for raising the most money above the $1,500 mark.

Patricia Fletcher also named the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School as the Top Dog winner in the Indian Creek school district for raising the most money during the 2013 campaign.

“The Gopher award goes to the Steubenville City School District, and the school gopher award is presented to the East Elementary School in Steubenville,” announced Fletcher.

“Our schools in Jefferson County have been raising money for the United Way of Jefferson County for the past 12 years and they have fun raising that money every year,” noted Fletcher.

Rupert-Warren announced the first Good Neighbor Award for the Cattrell Cos. and Huntington Bank.

“I also want to thank our new businesses in Jefferson County, Hess Energy and Chesapeake Energy, for their support and contributions to our United Way campaign,” said Rupert-Warren.

“This evening is about gratitude and caring about each other. I ask a representative from each of our 19 member agencies to bring a candle to the front to be lit and then to share that flame with others in the room. I hope you will leave here with the same commitment to continue doing what you do best. Our needs are only getting greater and together we will help those in need,” Rupert-Warren said.