An­other year of com­mu­nity ser­vice kicks off

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY WIL­LIAM ROLLER Staff Writer

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

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