United Way leading River Region charge

Published 2:10 pm Saturday, March 21, 2015

When you see proactive community members in the River Parishes, there is a good chance those helpful women and men are somehow affiliated with the United Way.

Through successful and growing community events to new initiatives with real opportunities to change things for the better, the United Way is making a positive impact.

In St. John the Baptist Parish, United Way organizers are spearheading a first-time effort to fund scholarships for local children to attend summer camps. No matter their economic background, every child deserves a chance to enjoy summer fun through enrichment programs.

St. John United Way Community Impact Manager John Olynick said the St. John umbrella organization is offering micro-grants for summer programs, with special consideration for funding efforts that support STEM education — matters of scientific, technical, engineering, mathematics and literacy activities.

Organizations interested in applying for a grant should contact Olynick at atjolynick@
stjohnunitedway.org or write to St. John United Way, PO Box 2019, Reserve, LA 70084.

In St. Charles Parish, United Way members are rightfully celebrating the fact they raised a total $2,833,169, a substantial increase from last year’s campaign and the largest fundraising campaign in the organization’s 60-year history.

And in a testament to the volunteers who drive the organization, Campaign and Marketing Manager Melissa Manning Frederick said, organizers identified a pressing need for proactive health care and summer activities for school-age kids.

“Through the generosity of donors, we are currently working to address both of those needs,” she said.

“Also part of our long-range goals is to have our School Backpack Program in every school in St. Charles Parish that wants it by 2017. The growth of this year’s campaign has certainly allowed us to advance in our mission to provide night and weekend meals and snacks to hungry kids in our community.”

Special recognition goes to fundraising campaigns at Valero St. Charles Refinery and Norco Manufacturing Complex. Valero raised just shy of $1 million, and Norco Manufacturing Complex saw tremendous growth of over 75 percent, Frederick said.

“We are ecstatic with this year’s campaign total and also humbled by the generosity of our community,” she said. “Our funding is on a year-to-year basis, so while we celebrate our current success, we are always thinking of the future. Our staff and Board of Directors have dedicated themselves to creating new ways to improve giving in order to reach our ambitious long-term goals.”

There are many wonderful people in the River Parishes who are always looking for worthwhile programs to support. When it comes to the United Way, there is plenty to believe in.