CHALLENGES ACCEPTED UW campaign leader looks at meeting increased goal and continuing success

Relyance Bank’s Steven Brown is facing a pair of big challenges as chairman of the United Way of Southeast Arkansas 2013 Fall Campaign. But while his successes are to be determined over the future months, he’s leaning on some past investments of time and effort to help him achieve his ambitions.

Brown — addressing a Thursday campaign-kickoff luncheon crowd at the Pine Bluff Convention Center — recalled his days as a Dollarway football player under renowned coach Lee Hardman, who notched four state championships and mastered a 51-game winning streak as the Cardinals’ chief. Hardman would eventually become an accomplished coach and then an administrator at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, during which time he directed a triumphant UW campaign here.

Brown said lessons learned under Hardman — both as a football player and UW volunteer — are easily remembered, and he figures his association with his longtime friend and mentor will help the present UW team in satisfying or surpassing a heightened goal in the current campaign and thereby expanding on a streak of eight consecutive years as the state’s only UW organization to reach its targeted collection amount.

The 2013 goal is $1, 285,000, which is $5,000 higher than last year’s mark.

“It’s a humbling task to be asked to serve in the capacity of chairman,” Brown told his audience, which included members of the hosting Rotary Clubs of Pine Bluff and West Pine Bluff. Encouraging everyone to “be a part of the solution,” he noted that last year’s campaign netted the support of 520 “pillars” who each gave at least $500 in helping to enable the services of the region’s 25 UW-supported agencies.

The audience was treated to a showing of a new campaign video that features UAPB student Tangila Smith, who left an abusive, out-of-state relationship and now resides in Pine Bluff’s CASA women’s shelter while completing her education. Smith then delivered brief remarks and performed a song with lyrics that she said express her feelings about overcoming and moving on from hardships.

Brown called Smith “an illustration of the impact the United Way can have.”

Brown said the familiar UW thermometer signs will soon be seen throughout the area. He urged citizens to help “get the red over the top” of the signs as soon as they can. He termed the public’s UW support “remarkable.”

The UW partner agencies here include ACCESS Inc., American Cancer Society Mid-South Division, American Red Cross, American Social Health Association, Area Agency on Aging, Arkansas 2-1-1, Arkansas Foodbank Network, Boy Scouts of America-Quapaw Area Council, Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County, CASA Inc., Children’s Advocacy Center of Pine Bluff, Gifts in Kind Arkansas, Girl Scouts-Diamonds AOT, Jefferson County 4-H, Jenkins Memorial Center, Jenkins Industries, Medical Aid, Neighbor to Neighbor, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Salvation Army, Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare System, USO, Voices for Children/Court Appointed Special Advocates, Volunteers in Public Schools, and YouthPartners Inc.