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United Way campaign begins with $55K headstart

September 15, 2018

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP —Three checks totaling $55,000 were presented during the United Way of the Laurel Highlands 2018 campaign kickoff breakfast Thursday in the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s Living/Learning Center.

Women United presented United Way with a $25,000 check, which is $9,000 more than they raised for last year’s campaign.

Women United member and Greater Johnstown assistant superintendent Amy Arcurio, who also sits on the United Way board of directors, presented the check to Mike Artim of the United Way. The money was raised from a Power of the Purse fundraising event, where about 400 women raised money last week at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center in Johnstown.

Arcurio said she thought the Power of the Purse event was amazing.

“It’s amazing because last year was our inaugural event by the Power of the Purse from Women United, and through the efforts of a whole lot of dynamic women, we were able to add our proceeds from $16,000 last year to $25,000 this year.

“I believe the generosity of the community speaks volumes and everybody’s behind that initiative. I also think that this event will continue to grow and will continue to be our signature event, and we’ll just have the Power of the Purse as our major fundraiser every year to kick off the campaign for the United Way,” Arcurio said.

Artim, who has been with the United Way for more than a decade, said this year’s campaign goal is to raise $1.3 million, which he said can be achieved by working together with community partners for donations and state grants. The organization raised more than $1.2 million last year.

“Those are big goals, and they’re scary and that is good because if your goals don’t scare you, you’re not setting your goals high enough. We know that we can achieve that. We know that by working together, that goal is not scary at all,” Artim said. “I know this is a tough hill to climb, but I also know the (people) at the top of the hill didn’t fall there, they worked there and we will work together to achieve our goals.”

United Way grant writer Travis Hutzell said his responsibility in this year’s campaign is to work with the United Way’s more-than-30 community partners to bring in funding and support human services programs in Somerset and Cambria counties.

“It’s a really multi-facet approach to coordinating the human services to bring the money in to address widespread community needs,” he said.

The United Way of the Laurel Highlands, which serves needy families in the two counties, raises money to facilitate social change for children in three areas: early childhood development, parental engagement and drug and alcohol prevention programs.

Campaign Chairman Marty Radovanic of Highmark was not able to attend this year’s kickoff breakfast because he was kept at a hospital for chest pain.

The campaign’s vice chairwoman, Dr. Susan Williams of Conemaugh Health System, said that although she has only been in the community for three years, she has “been here long enough to understand the value of this community.”

“This United Way is truly unique in my experience in that it is imbedded in our community. I’m very pleased to be a part of this campaign,” Williams said.

Pitt-Johnstown Education Division Chairman Gerald Zahorchak also spoke during the kickoff breakfast.

Conemaugh Health System presented the United Way with a $10,000 check, and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield presented a $20,000 check for this year’s campaign.

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