United Way kicks off campaign

Two weeks after the resignation of the head of the United Way of the National Capital Area, the Prince William United Way launched its 2002 campaign Thursday at an upbeat luncheon.

“Many changes will be taking place within the coming months and we ask for your patience and for your support while this happens,” campaign Cabinet member Bob Peetz told the gathering in his welcoming address at the luncheon at the Heritage Hunt Country Club.

The local unit has set a goal of $1 million to provide financial support to 60 United Way agencies in the community. There are more than 1,200 agencies within the metropolitan area, supported from the $90 million raised last year.

Mark Laskowski, publisher of the Manassas Journal Messenger and the Potomac News, is serving as the campaign chairman.

Wearing a Superman sweatshirt, Laskowski told those in attendance: “As ‘Superman’, I will be out helping the campaign staff round up donations to help those in need. Our goal is to make sure everyone knows about the United Way’s positive role in our community this year.”

He added: “The tone of this year’s campaign is ‘Keep your dollars local; designate Prince William agencies.’ We have set an aggressive total this year of raising a million dollars. We feel it is a ‘doable’ goal. Even though we have our challenges facing us, we believe our community is committed to continue to support the United Way effort and the agencies and people we support through contributions.”

The National Capital Area, which oversees the county’s United Way, announced this week that it has hired Robert Egger, director of D.C. Central Kitchen, to take over from Norman O. Taylor, who resigned two weeks ago as chief executive of the group. Many of the regional offices, including Prince William, sought his resignation. Egger, who will work as the interim chief, will make $85,000 annually; Taylor’s had made $225,000 a year.

United Way benefits such organizations as the Prince William Chapter of the American Red Cross, Prince William Area Free Clinic, Project Mend-A-House, Salvation Army, Securing Emergency Resources through Volunteer Efforts Inc., Mercy Medical Airlift, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Coalition Against Hunger.

“Last year, our campaign was a tremendous success, raising over $1.2 million — surpassing everyone’s expectations — and we hope to continue to serve our community through another outstanding campaign this year,” Laskowski said in his closing remarks Thursday.

“If the United Way went away tomorrow, critically needed programs would disappear as well,” Peetz added. “Our community, our citizens cannot afford for that to happen.”

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