At the forefront of any successful team effort are those who lead by example, inspiring others to achieve higher goals previously thought unattainable.
This year, Lycoming County's biggest team effort, the 2008 Lycoming County United Way campaign, is being led by two men with proven track records of leading successful teams: campaign chairman Michael Bush and vice-chairman Oscar Knade. Both men are the driving force behind the more than 1,000 volunteers assisting with the campaign in a multitude of capacities.
"I was born and raised here and my wife and I made a deliberate decision to come back to Lycoming County after some time out of the area. The people here have allowed us to build a wonderful life for our family," Bush said. "Not everyone has such an easy path, and those folks must not be forgotten. The programs supported by United Way donors ensure that help is there for those that need it when they need it."
This year Lycoming County’s biggest team effort, the 2008 Lycoming County United Way campaign, is being led by two men with proven track records of leading successful teams: campaign chairman Michael Bush, left, and vice-chairman Oscar Knade.
Bush has volunteered with United Way for 16 years in a variety of roles. Last year, he accepted the role of vice-chair of the annual campaign in preparation to be the chairperson this year.
Many of the programs funded by United Way serve the working poor in Lycoming County. People who may work minimum wage jobs or face a family emergency and cannot survive without a temporary helping hand.
"Some of our program partners provide services that give program participants the tools they need to stand on their own two feet. These are not hand-outs, they are a helping hand such as classes to improve reading skills which will lead to more gainful employment. Other program partners assist people facing a crisis such as an illness or injury that prevents them from working and they need help with their bills for a short time," Bush said.
"We are focused on five critical community needs categories: nurturing our children, serving those with special needs, caring for people in crisis, supporting our seniors, and strengthening our families," Bush explained. "All of our program partners are held accountable to meet these community needs in order to receive funding.
"I feel that United Way is by far the best way to have the most impact meeting the urgent needs of our neighbors," Bush said.
Bush has devoted countless hours to United Way in recent months preparing for the campaign in addition to working full-time as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch. Bush lives in Loyalsock Township with his wife, Tera, and their two children, Brian and Madeline.
Serving in the role of vice-chair this year is Knade. He describes himself as "mostly retired" after serving as the superintendent of schools for the Williamsport Area School District for 20 years.
"I first became involved with United Way in 1972 when I co-chaired the campaign with the faculty and staff within the school district. Many local employers like the school district support United Way by hosting an in-house campaign for employees to donate via payroll deduction. These workplace contributions make up the majority of funds we raise each year and are critical to responding to community needs," Knade said.
Knade also has served two three-year terms on the United Way board of directors over the years and helped with numerous United Way initiatives.
"I volunteer for United Way because I believe in a unified approach to charitable giving. Moreover, the United Way umbrella includes a broad reach of human service providers whose work is critical to the well being of our extended community," Knade said. "The United Way approach to funding program partners includes strict measures of accountability assuring donors' contributions are wisely spent."
Knade and his wife Shirley live in Fairfield Township. They have two sons, Stuart and Karl, who live in Harrisburg and Easton, Md., respectively.
The annual campaign will begin this week and continue until the end of November. For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to make a donation to the campaign, call 570-323-9448.