Weirton United Way prepares 2017 campaign

The Weirton United Way took time to thank those involved in making its 2016 campaign a success, while preparing for the 2017 campaign season. During a dinner held Thursday at Hancock County Savings Bank, Tom McDonald, right, 2016 campaign chair, presented the “Hands of Leadership” to Pat Ford. Ford will serve as the United Way’s 2017 campaign chair. — Craig Howell

WEIRTON — It was the official end of one campaign year and the beginning of another for the Weirton United Way on Thursday.

United Way officials, volunteers and guests gathered at Hancock County Savings Bank to celebrate a successful 2016 campaign, while preparing for the start of the efforts for 2017 as they work to raise money for 14 area agencies.

In what he said will be his final address as the organization’s executive board president, John Frankovitch noted the changes that have taken place in Weirton during the last 10 years, with growth in local medical professions, new construction, new industry and other opportunities.

“Weirton is a much different place than it was,” Frankovitch said. “It’s not that stodgy old steel town anymore.”

Those changes extend to the United Way, he said, explaining it no longer is as simple as fundraising for three months and then calling the community’s largest employer to help fill the gap. The work takes longer, new ideas are needed and more people get involved.

“It is a 12-month campaign. It is no longer a three-month campaign,” Frankovitch said.

He said through events such as the “Big Game Eve” Tailgate, and the work of its staff and volunteers, the United Way has “radically transformed itself” to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.

Tom McDonald, outgoing 2016 campaign chair, agreed, saying while heading up the campaign team during the last two years, he has seen many area residents step up, providing leadership for the community while working to find ways to assist those in need.

“I’ve seen these people work tirelessly, giving their time and their talent,” McDonald said.

In particular, he offered his appreciation to United Way Executive Director Linda Stear and staff member Rachel Price, along with the campaign team, volunteers and event sponsors.

McDonald thanked Pat Ford, who served as his campaign vice chair in 2016 and will be taking over as chair of the 2017 campaign.

For his part, Ford, the executive director of the Business Development Corp., said the success of the United Way, much like in his economic development work, is due to collaboration among all those involved. By working together, he said, obstacles become opportunities to improve things for the people of the community.

“That social infrastructure is surrounding us every day,” Ford said, pledging to work hard for the campaign.

United Way officials expressed appreciation to several long-time volunteers, including David Robertson, who was presented the Donald Donell Community Service Award.