The Duncan Banner
Emotions ran high Thursday with the end of the United Way of Stephens County campaign and the impending departure of Executive Director Lauren Ellis.
Throughout most of the annual meeting, volunteers and agency heads were in good cheer. The 2013-14 campaign reached its $350,000 goal.
“A lot of people gave their time to United Way,” said Betty Beck, United Way Loaned Executives chairwoman. “It’s something that gets in your blood. When I think about why I do it, it’s because there are people out there less fortunate than I am. I can’t just write them all a check.”
Ellis and campaign chairwoman Haylee Root recognized Beck for helping increase donations through the Loaned Executives program. Beck was one of 19 people involved in the Loaned Executives program this year.
Root was also noted for helping this year’s campaign reach its goal.
Root said she was nervous when she agreed to become chairwoman for the campaign because people alluded to the size of the project. But when she got into the thick of campaign season, she was relieved to find she was having fun, not stressing out to the degree she was warned about.
“It was exactly what I thought it would be,” Root said. “It was fun. It was exciting.”
She said her goal, aside from the financial goal, was to bring more attention to the 16 agencies that partner with the United Way. This was reflected in the campaign video created by Gabe Amaya, who was also recognized for his efforts, and through various events.
Root said she wants to continue her involvement in the United Way.
“I’m kind of sad to go,” Root said. “I hope to stay around for the next campaign.”
This year, two spirit awards were presented to Duncan Regional Hospital and Wilco Machine & Fab.
Additionally, seven companies were noted as having a per capita employee donation of $100 or more. Those companies and businesses included Solutions Practice Management, Bank of Commerce, Arvest Bank, BankFirst of Duncan, Duncan Community Residence, Centerpoint Energy and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Ellis and Root also recognized Ken Jones as volunteer of the year for his help in planning and executing the United Way Follies, which served as the kickoff event and the first fundraiser of the 2013-14 campaign.
“It was something we hadn’t done before,” Ellis said. “It drew a whole new crowd.”
Root said the follies event also provided insight into each agency, which fell in line with her personal goal for the campaign.
Various volunteers and agency heads recognized Ellis for the pivotal role she played in the success of the United Way of Stephens County. Ellis, recently named the new chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, will begin her new job on May 12 but will continue to live in Duncan.
Shirley King, Douglass Eastside Senior Citizens Center director, said she owes a lot to Ellis, who helped her find direction in her position.
“I’m so thankful to Lauren,” King said. “She showed me how to be a director. We wouldn’t be where we are today without her and without all of you.”