Two simple words that define much more than this year's United Way campaign slogan.
Here in Lycoming County, living united has been a repeated strength as time after time throughout history those who call Lycoming County home have responded kindly in times of trouble and need. This past year has been a difficult one for our nation and community. The year ahead will bring with it continuing, likely even increasing, community needs that must be met.
2009 Lycoming County United Way co-chairmen Dr. James Campbell, left, and Dr. Oscar W. Knade Jr.
Meeting the human service needs of Lycoming County residents is no small task. It requires monumental teamwork and at the forefront of any successful team effort are those who lead by example, inspiring others to get involved and do their best.
Dr. Oscar W. Knade Jr. and Dr. James Campbell are two such community leaders who "live united" and they have volunteered to lead United Way's annual campaign.
Both bring extensive backgrounds in the education profession and agree: when we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all.
Knade and Campbell will lead the 2009 Lycoming County United Way campaign as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively. Together they are the driving force behind more than 1,000 volunteers assisting with the campaign in a multitude of capacities.
"United Way is focused on five critical community needs categories here in Lycoming County: nurturing our children, serving those with special needs, caring for people in crisis, supporting our seniors, and strengthening our families," Knade explained. "All of our program partners are held accountable to meet these community needs through measurable program outcomes in order to receive funding."
Knade is engaged in numerous volunteer activities 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 has also 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. I want to encourage our friends and neighbors in Lycoming County to not just 'live united' but also to 'give united,' " Knade said. "It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future.
"The United Way umbrella includes a broad reach of human service providers whose work is critical to the well being of our extended community and United Way's approach to funding program partners includes strict measures of accountability assuring donors' contributions are wisely allocated," Knade added.
Knade brings with him a broad understanding of community needs. In addition to his extensive service to United Way, he has served on the board of directors for American Red Cross and Hope Enterprises - two of United Way's program partners.
"During the 37 years we have lived in Lycoming County, my wife, Shirley, and I have been involved in many volunteer activities and continue to do so in retirement," Knade said.
"We are excited that Dr. James Campbell, president of Hope Enterprises, has accepted the position as vice chair of the upcoming 2009 campaign," Knade said.
"As United Way continues our commitment to impact funding and strengthening program partner relationships, Jim's addition marks the first time in United Way history that an agency chief executive has taken these reigns of leadership to help all human services programs operating under the United Way umbrella.
"Jim's track record of providing leadership and helping others is well-documented. He is broadly recognized in our community and will reflect positively on Lycoming County United Way and the programs it funds. His first-hand knowledge of the financial needs of the human service community will provide a unique perspective to this most important fund raising effort," Knade concluded.
Campbell has been involved with United Way for more than 20 years.
"I have tried to volunteer whenever possible in wanting to give back to our community," Campbell said. "I have always enjoyed helping others in need. My entire career has been about helping others and I wouldn't change that for anything. It is very rewarding to me to think that somewhere, somehow, I have been a small part of making someone's life better."
Joining Knade and Campbell on this year's Campaign Cabinet are: Michael Bush, past chairman; Ronald Frick, Peter Herdic chairman; Peter Bower, corporations chairman; Allen Kiessling, employee chairman; Lori Strimple, loaned executive chairman; Ron Reynolds, professional chairman; Christina Herman, education chairman; Rene Rhine, small business chairman; Brian Toseki, public service chairman; Amy Dowling, county chairman; Mary Engel, Williamsport residential chairman; Donna Miller, in-house manager representative.
"We appreciate these dedicated volunteers for their service to the community and we welcome new volunteers to join us in the upcoming challenge so vital to the residents of Lycoming County," Knade said.
The annual campaign officially will begin in September, although donations gladly are accepted anytime. For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to make a donation to the campaign visit www.lcuw.org or call 323-9448.