Recognition richly deserved for due of United Way leaders

It’s been an eventful two years for the Lycoming County United Way.

The organization set a fundraising record in 2011. It topped that fundraising record in the campaign that recently ended by 4 percent, raising $1,612,125.

That total represents the efforts of hundreds of volunteer campaign workers and the giving hearts of thousands of United Way donors.

But someone has to lead the effort with organization and heart. And that leader for the past two years has been Virgil Probasco, who turned over the fundraising chairmanship reins at last week’s United Way dinner to Dr. William Martin, senior vice president of the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Probasco was not the only person deserving of attention at the dinner.

Thomas O’Connell of the Susquehanna Health System was recognized with the Douglas C. Dickey Humanitarian Award, the highest volunteer honor given by the county United Way.

For many years O’Connell has served as chairman of funds distribution.

For all the funds that have been raised, the effect of the effort would be minimized without sound decision-making on how to distribute the funds to the more than two dozen program partners that United Way serves.

The local United Way has a unique fundraising panel process that involves a cross-section of community representatives reviewing the presentations of the program partners and then making judgments regarding their funding requests.

O’Connell has engineered the setting up and execution of a process that is fair, detailed and pragmatic, representing both the donors who have given their money to the United Way and the program partners who must meet the needs of thousands of Lycoming County residents.

His role takes a combination of business acumen along with an open heart and O’Connell has exhibited both to the betterment of Lycoming County.

The United Way could not have chosen a more worthy Dickey Award winner.