United Way launches $2.8M campaign

With an introduction by Red Cedar Elementary students holding cards that read “Live United,” the United Way of the Lowcountry announced its 2012 fundraising goal of $2.8 million to “Advance the Common Good.”
The event marked the last campaign kickoff for Clarece Walker, CEO of United Way of the Lowcountry. Earlier this year she announced her retirement would be effective in late February, 2013 following 35 years of service
“It’s bittersweet to stand before you today,” Walker said. “Working with all you wonderful people, we have made good strides to ‘advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all.’
“We have an army of dedicated volunteers who LIVE UNITED, who give, advocate and volunteer with us,” Walker noted. “We have a commitment to ensure funding to help our 44 partner agencies, partners and programs  provide services to meet basic needs when they arise and to help our children succeed in school and in life.”
The Pacesetter contributors — 97 organizations and large businesses that conduct their United Way campaigns in mid-summer — already jump-started the campaign with $711,210. That’s 25 percent of the campaign goal, Walker announced.
“We have a great start,” she said, “but we have a lot of work to do in the two counties. We don’t have much industry or many large businesses, so we are heavily dependent upon our residents to put us over the top with that $2.8 million.
“Sounds like a lot? You bet it does. But it’s what needs to be done,” she said. “This is a community that has never shied away from a challenge. We’ve done it through hurricanes, through wars and through issues big and small. Now here’s a challenge — help us raise $2.8 million to help here at home.”
This year, in addition to providing funding to agencies and partnerships that provide for basic needs, United Way of the Lowcountry is launching an education initiative that has an initial focus on establishing tutoring programs in eight elementary schools.

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Walker Dean, far right, and Eric Taylor entertained the growing First Friday crowd with popular songs