United Way sets $169.5K goal

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Washington Parish United Way campaign set its 2015 goal for $169,500 during Tuesday afternoon’s kickoff luncheon at ESM United Methodist Church.

“Think about United Way, listen to your heart, and help us achieve our goal,” said Larry Miller, chairman of the Washington Parish United Way council.

United Way helps fund 11 agencies in the parish, which help meet the needs of all citizens regardless of age, gender and race.

Washington Parish executive director Charlotte Champagne said that the parish raised $102,000 during the 2014 campaign. That money helped fund 27 programs, which provided more than 6,500 services to individuals throughout the year.

Michael Williamson, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Louisiana, noted that 30 percent of Washington Parish residents live either at the poverty line or below it.

“It is a daunting task to battle poverty,” Williamson said. “It requires a great deal of support and leadership. We need more individuals like you to join us. Not just by providing donations, but also by working as volunteers and advocates.”

Williamson introduced Robert Merrick, the chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum, as the day’s guest speaker. Merrick was the first Louisiana resident to donate $1 million to the United Way.

Merrick said it is important that the agencies that receive United Way funds only use the money for services, not for salaries and other expenses.

“Everything you donate helps people in the communities where you live,” he said.

After speaking, Merrick’s Latter & Blum company gave a $5,000 donation to the Washington Parish United Way campaign.

“I am rarely at a loss for words,” Miller said. “This has done it. What a wonderful way to kick off our campaign.”

Miller and Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette presented Merrick with gifts. Miller gave him a poster from the Blues and Heritage Festival, and Perrette gave him a wooden key to the city.

Agencies that are funded by United Way include ADAPT, Inc.; American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana; Bogalusa YMCA; Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans; Regina Coeli Child Development Center; Second Harvest Food Bank; SELA Legal Services; VIA LINK 2-1-1; and the Youth Services Bureau.

Champagne also recognized the top five participants in the 2014 campaign. They were, from first to fifth, International Paper, Rayburn Correctional Center, Our Lady of the Angels Hospital, Entergy and Centerpoint Energy (which also had 100-percent employee participation).

The Washington Parish Clerk of Court received the 2014 Community Spirit Award, for excellence in employee participation and contributions.

For more information on the United Way, to donate or to volunteer, visit online at www.unitedwaysela.org or call 985-732-2305.