United Way starts its 2013 campaign

As the Lycoming County United Way celebrated the kickoff of its 2013 campaign Thursday night, volunteers were reminded that it will take a lot of work to reach the organization’s goal of $1.725 million for the year.

“The hard work begins today,” said Dr. William J. Martin, campaign chairman, to the room of volunteers.

During the kickoff event at the Community Arts Center, Scott N. Lowery, county United Way executive director, recognized the in-house campaign managers, who lead fundraisers in businesses and organizations around the county.

Lowery reported that funds raised by the in-house managers make up more than 60 percent of the total campaign proceeds.

Lowery described these individuals as “someone special who means a whole lot to this campaign.”

Martin called them “mighty contributors.”

When talking about why he got involved in the United Way, Martin described himself as “a numbers guy.”

And when he found out that the organization’s campaigns help services and programs that benefit one out of three county residents, he was “sold.”

“My question isn’t, ‘Why should I be a part of this organization?’ But, ‘Why haven’t I been?’ ” Martin said.

But the night wasn’t only focused on the volunteers. It also focused on the people it helps.

One of the stories came from Bob Haefner, of South Williamsport. Haefner uses a senior program at the Williamsport Branch YMCA to stay active after retirement.

“I always was very active in my career,” he said.

Haefner told the audience that after being diagnosed with sleep apnea, which required a breathing machine, he looked to the Y to help get healthier.

After joining the Y last year, Haefner lost 25 pounds and no longer needs the breathing machine.

Lowery said it was important to hear the stories of those who are helped by the campaign, because although they look how much is raised, “above all else, we are a people organization.”

And despite its name changing several times since 1922, Lowery said that it is this mission of helping the community that has remained.

“People helping people is what we are all about,” Lowery said.