Exceeding Expectations

Few things galvanize a community more than donating time, money and resources to those in need.

The United Way does just that.

On Tuesday, the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, complete with its board members, staff, volunteers and guests, gathered at the Salita Weeks Reception Room at Jamestown Community College to celebrate not only the close of its 2013 campaign, but the remarkable amount of money raised by it.

In total, the campaign raised $1,325,970-exceeding its original goal by approximately $11,000.

Every dollar-according to the campaign’s mission statement-stays local and is awarded to programs that meet targeted outcomes in the areas of education, income and health.

Deke and Deb Kathman, campaign co-chairs, were clearly elated by the result.

“We feel great,” Deke Kathman said. “It has been a wonderful experience all around. We are extremely grateful for the volunteers who helped us reach our goal and who went above and beyond the call of duty.”

Deke and Deb, who’ve clearly had their share of busy schedules – the former Jamestown Public Schools superintendent and former executive director of Chautauqua Striders, respectively- were supposedly ready for a relaxing retirement when they began this campaign in September.

“Deb and Deke did a tremendous job of organizing this fundraising effort from the start,” said Jennifer Gibson, United Way board president. “Together, with the rest of our amazing volunteers, our campaign co-chairs skillfully executed this huge task of donor relationship and community engagement.”

Fittingly, the celebration used Shel Silverstein’s 1964 children’s book, “The Giving Tree,” as a visual representation of the community’s generosity. As various representatives of business, education, industrial and public service sectors were called to receive an award, each recreated the book’s classic cover by placing a section of the eponymous tree onto a posterboard-essentially symbolizing their collective effort in giving back.

Campaign Achievement Awards were presented to Jamestown Public Schools, Jamestown Electro-Plating, WCD Boys & Girls Club of Jamestown, Hope’s Windows, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, Chautauqua Institution, United Parcel Service, Phoenix Metal, Nationwide Insurance-Lawson Agency, Northwest Savings Bank. In addition, the Sheldon Foundation received the Loyal Supporter Award and Wegmans received the Friend of United Way Award.

“Our focus this entire campaign wasn’t on the individual gift, but rather on the number of individuals giving,” Deb Kathman said. “This was a total team effort that involved everyone’s contribution, whether that’s someone’s time or financial gift. Because of this campaign’s success, the vital work of United Way partner agencies can continue to meet the needs of this community.”

The United Way of Southern Chautauqua County helps support 39 programs at 18 partner agencies.

For more information, visit www.uwayscc.org.