United Way within reach of fundraising goal, chairman says

Relyance Bank Senior Vice President Steven Brown is hoping a late surge in donations will help the United Way of Southeast Arkansas meet its fall 2013 campaign goal of $1.285 million

Brown, who serves as chairman of the fall campaign, said the drive — scheduled to end Feb. 27 — has thus far garnered $1,221,042 in contributions. That amount represents 95 percent and is less than $64,000 shy of the target.

Economic concerns and the absence of former major contributor Washington Group of the U.S. Army’s Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility at the Pine Bluff Arsenal have posed campaign challenges, but Brown still considers the effort “a good year.”

Pointing out that Washington Group typically accounted for around $100,000 in contributions, Brown noted that if each individual, company and organization that made a pledge last year but hasn’t yet pledged in the current campaign would do so, the fall goal would be met.

“We need everyone’s help,” said Brown. “Our community has always been supportive of this important cause, and I am confident that we will continue the trend and again reach our goal.”

The UW of Southeast Arkansas serves more than 30,000 people annually through 26 partnering agencies — Access Inc., American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, American Social Health Association, Area Agency on Aging, Arkansas Foodbank Network, Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County, CASA Women’s Shelter, Character Council of Southeast Arkansas, Children’s Advocacy Center, Gifts in Kind Arkansas, Girl Scouts, Jefferson County 4H, Jenkins Memorial Center, Jenkins Industries, Literacy Council of Jefferson County, Medical Aid, Neighbor-to-Neighbor. Jefferson County RSVP, Salvation Army, Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare System, USO, Voices for Children/Court Appointed Special Advocates, Volunteers in Public Schools and Youth Partners Inc.

UW of Southeast Arkansas Executive Director Jim Caldwell said he shares Brown’s confidence that the campaign goal will be met.

“There have been lots of positives in this campaign,” Caldwell said. “We always have a broad base of support and that’s exactly what we need to again make our goal.”

Caldwell added that Washington Group and its employees, who departed after completion of the chemical munitions disposal mission at PBA, are missed for much more than their UW support. He termed the company and its workers as “caring community partners.”