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2010 United Way campaign kicks off with volunteer event

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 26, 2010 at 3:26 a.m.

Fifteen-year-old Jackeline Martinez, Member of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club, thanked representatives of the Victoria United Way. Jackeline described the benefits and values she learned while attending afternoons at the Club, which is funded through the United Way. "If I can help one troubled teen get into the club and out of trouble, I have been successful," Jackeline said.

Fifteen-year-old Jackeline Martinez, Member of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club, thanked representatives of the Victoria United Way. Jackeline described the benefits and values she learned while attending afternoons at the Club, which is funded through the United Way. "If I can help one troubled teen get into the club and out of trouble, I have been successful," Jackeline said.

The Boys and Girls Club of Victoria was filled Thursday with volunteers painting rooms, replacing ceiling tiles and cleaning up.

Victoria County United Way announced its $822,000 campaign goal - the same amount it raised in 2009 - with a community service project.

The event was a way to get community members together for a fun activity to help an agency United Way serves, said Gary Worsham, this year's campaign chair.

Phallon Crawford, who coaches Victoria West High School's cheerleading squad, took 20 varsity cheerleaders and the school mascot to volunteer Thursday. They worked, cleaned and presented a United Way cheer.

"With the new schools, we wanted to start some new traditions," she said. "We wanted to help give back."

It was encouraging to see so many people supporting the Boys and Girls Club, said Mike Cavazos, the club's board president.

In June, a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars of lost computers, cameras and equipment for the organization, while three air-conditioning units were stolen in a July break-in. This shows the kids that the community is there to back them up, Cavazos said.

"We've had two or three instances where we were knocked down, but we came back up."

United Way's $822,000 goal is ambitious but feasible, Worsham said. The Pacesetter group, which jump starts the campaign, has already brought in $126,024, or 15 percent of the goal.

Funds the group brings in go toward 19 agencies, ranging from the American Red Cross to Victoria Adult Literacy and Victoria County Senior Citizens.

United Way is the third largest funding source for Golden Crescent CASA, which assists abused and neglected children in the region, said Tim Hornback, CASA's executive director. The organization also hosts quarterly meetings, which offer other resources for nonprofits, he said.

"Really, United Way lets us do what we do," Hornback said. "And that's training volunteers to help the children we work with."

With about 70 volunteers helping out, the kick-off was a success, said Clifford Grimes, executive director of Victoria County United Way. The volunteer aspect of the kick-off will likely continue into the future.

"I think it went well," he said. "We'll do this again."

Kelly Park, who chairs the board for the Victoria County United Way, agreed.

"If you take that many people and put them with one task at hand, it makes it that much easier," Park said. "And that's what United Way is all about."


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