Another year of community service kicks off
For 37 years United Way of Imperial County has supported health and human care services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the community and Wednesday kicked off another campaign in hopes to continuing those efforts.
About 80 gathered at the El Centro Police Activities League for the seventh annual breakfast campaign kick-off to network with Ken Wuytens, United Way executive director, and talk about the programs that need continued support in the community.
“Some ask that funds support a specific project,” said Wuytens. “Quite a few designate a preference for the Cancer Resources Center of the Desert. And a lot of teachers designate funds for the B& G Club’s Homework Help Center (Boys & Girls Club) at the Calexico Library. Also, a lot of member agencies have youth and education programs such as PAL, Catholic Charities and House of Hope’s evening reading program.”
Singled out for recognition was United Ways’ Above and Beyond awardee.
This year there were two recipients, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and Macy’s. Robert Perez, UPS operations supervisor, recalled he has collaborated for 10 years from car washes to the bean bag toss tournament.
“Everybody at one time or another needs a help- ing hand to get back on their feet and what better way to do it than through United Way,” said Perez. “This year we made two donations — one to United Way of Imperial County and one for United Way’s Hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief.”
Also extolling programs were representatives of two member agencies, Boy Scouts of America and Salvation Army of Imperial County.
Steven Sano, district executive of Desert Trails District of the Boy Scouts noted they teach youth self-sufficiency.
He reminded the audience they are the leaders of the community and they all need to step up to the plate.
“United Way has helped us in a major way with summer camp, he said. “But in the Scouts when you want something you don’t just ask mom or dad, you earn it. We all help each other. Yet we appreciate United Way for their outreach.”
Lts. John and Jennifer Acosta of Salvation Army noted their mission is to preach the gospel and help the underserved. “Many come to us at the lowest point in their lives but get their lives back on track,” said John. “Some who come to us ask for just one thing but we leave them with so much more. We appreciate all our community partners, especially United Way.”
Wrapping up, Bruce Kuhn, president of Imperial Irrigation District board, largest single donor organization, with $480,000 the last seven years, remarked the payroll deduction plan was a noble gesture on behalf of Valley employers. “It’s a great way to support the community and great way to give back,” he said.
“United Way couldn’t exist without our member agencies, and this kicks off our campaign season,” said Wuytens. “We’re looking forward to a good year and all donations stay in the Valley. “Last year we raised $130,000 plus some federal funding.”
Steve Sano (right), district executive of Desert Trails district of Boy Scouts of America at the seventh annual United Way campaign kickoff breakfast, Wednesday in El Centro. WILLIAM ROLLER PHOTO