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May 3, 2013

United Way officers get involved

DUNCAN — Some of those who keep the mechanics of the United Way of Stephens County moving smoothly are somewhat behind the scenes and these are the board members.

New board members for the United Way were inducted earlier this year. This year’s president is Lourie Bleem, who has been involved in the organization for three years and vice president is Billie Strutton, who has been involved for 2.5 years.

Bleem is the inventory control manager for Family Dollar Distribution and Strutton is a Farmer’s Insurance agent. Both live in Duncan and got involved with the United Way in an almost identical fashion.

“I met a group of women and became close friends with them in my Leadership Duncan class and they invited me to get involved,” said Bleem, who was in Leadership Duncan Class XIV. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

“I got on with the United Way in same way,” said Strutton, who was in Class XVI. “I had no idea everything they did until I got involved.”

As board members, the two women will lead meetings and work closely with Lauren Ellis, director, and Tim Hunter, board treasurer, in order to keep the United Way moving toward its focus. This means sticking to by laws of the organization and its mission and purpose. That purpose is “to improve the communities’ quality of life by uniting resources in support of programs dedicated to helping people.”

“They take good looks at current procedures and see what they can do to refine them and make things go smoother to keep us in line with our focus,” said Ellis.

Bleem and Strutton both expressed excitement about their new roles and said they look forward to learning even more during the upcoming year. When Bleem asked Strutton to be her vice president, she said yes immediately.

Both have been involved in the allocation process of United Way and this is one way they were better able to get to know about all of the agencies.

“You don’t realize the impact United Way has until you get involved,” Strutton said. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about the agencies and getting to know the people who are at each one.”

Volunteering with the United Way is something that the two women both agree is a worthwhile and rewarding thing to do. Though volunteers have risen in numbers for the organization, they said they can always use more.

“Take a hard look at volunteering in some way because there is always a place for everyone to utilize their talents,” Bleem said. “There are a lot of people who need help and lots of ways to help.”

The officers and Ellis said they are already looking forward to kicking off the next campaign season in the fall. To inquire about volunteering, call the United Way office at 580-255-3648.

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