The pacesetters' goal is to raise $925,000 by Sept. 12.
YOUNGSTOWN -- With some businesses closing and many scaling back operations in this area, campaign leaders say it's essential to broaden the base of support in this year's $3,250,000 effort for the United Way, whose pacesetter component kicked off Wednesday.
"That's going to be a real challenge for us because there's been a significant amount of downsizing throughout the community. The economy is a lot slower than it was a year ago," said Don Cagigas, president of the Youngstown-Mahoning Valley United Way. "The irony is, in times of a softer economy, the need goes up [for United Way agency services]," he said.
Cagigas noted that there are about 2,000 companies in Mahoning County that employ 10 or more people, yet only 350 of them contribute to United Way. He said the United Way needs to engage the other 1,650 companies in the campaign. Cagigas made his remarks at the kickoff dinner for the pacesetter campaign at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center at Mill Creek Park's Fellows Riverside Gardens.
Garry Mrozek, general campaign chairman and senior vice president for corporate banking at National City Bank, said there will also be a push for more comprehensive campaigns among companies that already participate.
Goal: The pacesetters, consisting of 34 local businesses and all 31 local United Way agencies, have a goal of $925,000 this year. Pacesetters agree to run early campaigns that end before the general campaign kickoff, which will be at 5 p.m. Sept.12 at Jillian's Entertainment Complex in Southern Park Mall.
The Sept. 12 kickoff will conclude the annual Day of Caring, in which volunteers will donate a day of free labor to more than 50 community service projects, including painting houses, conducting carnivals and picnics for children, and taking senior citizens on a field trip.
The pacesetter total is part of the $3,250,000 overall goal for the campaign, which is scheduled to end Nov. 30. The overall goal is $50,000 higher than the total of $3,200,000 raised in last year's campaign.
Pacesetter committee co-chairs are Lynn Cavalier and Frank Hierro, regional presidents, respectively, of Ohio Edison and Sky Bank.