Without a single message attached, the plain white hand addressed envelope reached its destination at the Lycoming County United Way office. Inside was a newspaper clipping stressing the importance of donor participation in the annual campaign. Accompanying the clipping was a single $1 bill.
With no other information to confirm or deny the rationale behind the gift, the motivational instinct to give of one's self to help others reveals the spirit of the basic human character to reach out and help when the need exists.
"When I learned of this story, it took me back to 2003 when I served as the chairman of the annual Lycoming County United Way campaign," recalled Ron Frick, M&T Bank vice president and longtime United Way volunteer.
"As we were winding down the campaign that year, I brought up in a meeting that if each individual in the county donated 50 cents we'd raise more than enough money to surpass our goal. Taking that suggestion to heart we presented the 50-cent idea to those attending our campaign leadership meeting and the Sun-Gazette was kind enough to run an editorial. In the weeks that followed we received numerous envelopes containing 50-cent pieces. I recall one individual sent $3 in an envelope with a note stating, 'Here is $3.50 for me and the rest for five others who may not be able to afford to give.'
"That heartfelt note taught me a lot about generosity and a motivation to give. While the campaign could not succeed on 50-cents or $1 alone, it does show that there are folks out there who are willing to give what they can in order to help out," said Frick who now volunteers his time serving as chairman of Lycoming County United Way's Peter Herdic Society, the leadership giving arm of the annual campaign.
On the heels of the recently concluded political campaigns, a quote by former president Calvin Coolidge speaks directly to this giving spirit: "No person was ever honored for what he received. He was honored for what he gave."
"I believe in the community good achieved by the United Way. Following my year as the campaign chair I wanted to stay involved and help expand the giving potential," Frick added. "As leadership donors members of the Peter Herdic Society can help improve the lives of thousands of Lycoming County residents with one single donation. Membership in the society begins with a $500 annual gift. Broken down, for those folks who are paid every other week that, amounts to $19.23 per pay. Most folks spend more than that on coffee or soda over the same period."
"When you see stuff like $1 coming in an envelope, or 50-cent pieces being dropped off it strengthens the message to those with the means to support the campaign at higher levels."
Under Frick's stewardship, the Peter Herdic Society has experienced steady growth in recent years explained Scott N. Lowery, the county United Way's executive director. "Membership in the Peter Herdic Society has grown from about 15 percent of the annual campaign to 29 percent last year. This year we will exceed 400 members for the first time in our history. Added to that, Ron has been instrumental in helping us establish the Tocqueville Society, comprised of individuals who are contributing $10,000 annually," Lowery said.
During the past year United Way contributions helped fund 43 vital human service programs in Lycoming County. The strong community support enables 97 percent of the funds collected to remain in the county, where last year 47,116 individuals were served.
Included in this spirit of giving were recent gifts made by individuals themselves receiving help at The American Rescue Workers and Hope Enterprises.
Ten men housed in the shelter at AWR pledged $1 a week as a means of giving back for help they are receiving.
At Hope Enterprises Inc. individuals served comprising the Hope Aktion Club conducted a fund raiser making a $100 gift to United Way.