"Live United" trumpets the campaign theme of this fall's Lycoming County United Way fundraising appeal. But in reality, "Live United" is much more than a catchy slogan or advertising message.
For the more than 1,000 volunteers and thousands of annual contributors, the simple two-word message denotes a way of life and a caring spirit to help others facing difficult times.
The "Face Story" series that appears in this section each week details very real accounts of individuals struggling with misfortune and the positive help they receive from the dedication and expertise of the 44 countywide human service programs operating under the local organization's umbrella.
Volunteers, players, friends and family participated in the second Doug Shangraw Memorial Golf Outing at White Deer Golf Course recently. Shangraw died within days of a local United?Way campaign kick off. Above, from left, are Charlene Shangraw, Peyton McDonald, David Shangraw, Betty Allen, Jim Gates, John Wilcox and Helen Fultz.
But those helped and those providing the help are bound by a simple thread: the commonality of the human spirit.
Despite their own busy lives, the volunteers and contributors whose time, talent and treasure sustain these life-saving services comprise what is perhaps Lycoming County's greatest natural resource.
Two years ago, within days of what would have been his participation in the kick off of the 2008 United Way annual campaign, Williamsport's Doug Shangraw passed away leaving behind a wife, three young children, a cadre of friends and a trio of organizations to whom he had dedicated enormous energy in his mission to help those around him.
"Doug was a great guy and a beloved and respected member of our community," said Allen Kiessling, a co-worker and friend of Doug's at Merrill Lynch. "We wanted to do something to remember Doug and the good things he stood for in a way that would be both a tribute to him and be reflective of his fun-loving spirit. So, we decided to host a golf event in his honor with the proceeds benefiting the United Way."
"I do it as a way to remember and perpetuate one of the qualities I loved best about Doug: his generosity. He always loved getting into the thick of things and helping out when it was most needed," said Christine Engel with a smile, a friend and co-worker of Doug's. "It's also a way for all the people who knew Doug to stay connected, which includes another of Doug's favorite activities - socializing."
Last Friday, more than 100 golfers and dozens of his friends and family participated in the second Doug Shangraw Memorial Golf Outing at White Deer Golf Course.
As with many golf events, there were prizes, food, frivolity and some friendly competition thrown in along the way. But through it all, it was remembrances of Doug and his concerns for others that carried the day.
"What better way to pay tribute to Doug's laid-back personality and charitable mindset than to get a group of hackers out on the golf course for a relaxing afternoon while raising money for one of Doug's favorite charities, Lycoming County United Way," said Brian Pick, a friend and co-worker from Merrill Lynch.
Manning a hot dog stand alongside the fourth hole were a half-dozen friends all sporting yellow polo shirts sporting "Coffee Club, Friends of Doug" embroidery.
Grilling devotee Vince Matteo, president of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, explained that the Coffee Club members were all friends of Doug with whom they often shared the morning beverage.
"We all enjoyed Doug's company, his concern for others and his willingness to get involved in community projects," Matteo said.
"We are all here today to remember Doug and appreciated what he was all about," he added.
"One of Doug's qualities that I truly admired was his involvement in charitable causes. We decided that a good way to remember Doug was to raise money for a charity or cause in which he had an interest. We also wanted to involve Doug's family and friends," explained Will Daniels, another friend and co-worker from Merrill Lynch. "Some of us from the office, including Doug, played in a golf league. The goal wasn't so much trying to get better (most of us didn't), but rather goofing off. Doug's involvement made that easy. So the charity golf outing seemed the right choice. We decided that raising money for a good cause and a little 'goofing off' would fit into the category of WWDD - 'What Would Doug Do?' "
"We are most grateful United Way was among Doug's favorite volunteer passions," added Scott N. Lowery, executive director of the local United Way chapter. "On our team, he served the important role as chairman of the campaign employee division. He possessed a zeal and enthusiasm that became infectious to others. We've established the Douglas Shangraw Memorial Volunteer Award that is annually presented to a campaign volunteer best exemplifying those qualities. But truth be known, I believe Doug would get even a bigger kick from all these golfers."
"Doug was very involved in this community. This is just the type of event he would have enjoyed," said his wife, Blair.
Following the tournament, a gathering of friends and family conducted a picnic outing at the South Williamsport park complex.
"His family was everything to Doug," said Matt Cramer, a lifelong friend and coworker of Doug's. "The day wouldn't be complete without some fun and games with the kids."
"United Way was one of Doug's favorite charities," explained Bob Shangraw, Doug's father. "He was also involved with Habitat for Humanity and Children's Development Center. Some of Doug's co-workers at Merrill Lynch are also helping with those organizations. Last year, we held the first golf outing and gave the proceeds to Habitat. As this continues, we hope to rotate the benefactors among those three charities. They were all important to Doug."
"Doug was a great friend, loving dad and husband and really cared about this community and giving back to it as much as he could and that's why we decided to do this event," Kiessling said. "We wanted to continue the legacy that he had established for himself and hopefully continue his mission of giving back."
Just as Kiessling, Cramer and their Merrill Lynch associates gave of themselves to honor Shangraw and the volunteer causes he believed in, 47,116 Lycoming County residents received needed help last year, thanks to the thousands who give of their time to help others.
Those are the face stories that are repeated every day right here at home.
You, too, can take the time to put a smile on the face of others. Volunteer and pitch in.