OSWEGO, NY – The United Way of Greater Oswego County paused briefly Wednesday from its humanitarian efforts to honor those who make such work possible – their legions of volunteers.
The organization’s 75th annual meeting and salute to volunteers was held at The American Foundry.
“This is our opportunity to say ‘thanks’ to all of the dedicated, hard-working individuals in our community that work together to make the 2012 – 2013 United Way campaign such a success,” said Melanie Trexler, executive director of the United Way of Greater Oswego County.
Their efforts have helped provide more than 2,100 hot meals a month to those in need; their efforts also helped a homeless teen, she said adding that the examples are only “a small sampling of what your efforts have achieved.”
“I thank you for your selfless involvement in our common cause,” she told the large crowd at the Foundry. “I thank you for your generosity and spirit. I thank you for your willingness to be part of a movement for a better Oswego County.”
Kathy Fenlon, United Way board president, cited the United Way’s staff, board of directors and legion of volunteers for all they have done to improve the quality of life all over the county.
“From youth to senior citizens, the United Way’s programs touch the lives of countless members of our community,” she said. “It is our community, and, it is personal. Your support of our annual campaign proved that phrase is much more than a campaign theme. It is a commitment to making Oswego County a better place to live for all of us.”
Campaign chair Robert Rolfe reviewed the campaign to date.
“We all have (individual) challenges. Our county has stood up, and all of you have collaborated and create an environment where we have been successful in raising funds and we have made this the fabric of our community,” he said. “But, when it’s personal, we take it to the heart. We did it again this year. When we make a choice to make things better, it’s personal.”
He compared the campaign to Ivory Soap (which is 99% pure).
“We have reached more than 99% of our goal. This is an opportunity for me to reach out to all of you and say, if you know a business that hasn’t had an opportunity to be exposed to the United Way or participate in these campaigns, or a leader of an industry or a philanthropic citizen – we’re this close,” he said holding his thumb and index finger right next to each other. “We’re less than 1% away from achieving our $800,000 objective.”
Campaign Cabinet Committee member Jonathon Daniels introduced the Volunteer of the Year Barb Bateman of NBT Bank.
Years ago, when he was announced as the new director at the Port of Oswego Authority, she sent him a letter welcoming him to the community.
“Made me feel absolutely wonderful,” he said. “She truly embodies the qualities of volunteerism. She always puts service above self.”
She donates her time and talents to countless organizations and community projects, he added.
“This truly humbling; it’s so hard for me to be up here in front of you for each and every one of you have done so much for this community. You always make it personal,” she told the audience.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized,” an emotional Bateman continued. “There are a lot of people to be thanked, including the board of directors. I’m sure many of you made this honor (possible) for me.”
She quipped that she and her husband often kid each other that without all their community involvement projects, they wouldn’t have a social life.
“To be asked to do something is great,” she said. “But, to be involved, is truly the best.
The Leadership and Commitment Award was presented to SEFA-SUNY Oswego, for being leaders in educating their employees on the needs of the community and inspiring them to support the United Way.
The Company Team of the Year Award went to Fulton Savings Bank for volunteers whose extraordinary commitment, energy, enthusiasm and talent contributed to the success of their organization’s campaign.
John Ferry and Kathy Fenlon were presented with the Company Coordinators of the Year Award. It is given to the campaign coordinators whose enthusiasm and creativity go above and beyond what is expected. Employees respond to their efforts contributing to the success of the campaign.
The Spirit of the Community Award was bestowed on the Oswego Elks Lodge. The award is given to volunteers who care and want to make a difference in their community.
Burritt Motors was recognized with the Small Business Award for their commitment and involvement with the United Way and the community over the years.
For more information or to make donations, call 593-1900.