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Community celebrates United Way’s campaign

Youths involved in United Way programs hold placards showing the money raised at last year’s United Way fund drive, while new executive director Jody Burch looks on, during Tuesday’s “reveal” event held at the Bartlesville Community Center. Pictured from left are Luis Balli, Vahlen Thompson, Rilynn O’Daniel, Latisha Smith, Kaden Ricks, Camdon Turner, Hillary Gammon and Michael Brown. S. Albert/Examiner-Enterprise
Youths involved in United Way programs hold placards showing the money raised at last year’s United Way fund drive, while new executive director Jody Burch looks on, during Tuesday’s “reveal” event held at the Bartlesville Community Center. Pictured from left are Luis Balli, Vahlen Thompson, Rilynn O’Daniel, Latisha Smith, Kaden Ricks, Camdon Turner, Hillary Gammon and Michael Brown. S. Albert/Examiner-Enterprise

For the past three months, supporters of the Bartlesville Regional United Way — which serves portions of eastern Osage County — showed what they had to give for the flagship agency to have a successful fundraising campaign.

Last Tuesday night, their generosity was celebrated with toasts and cheers in the Bartlesville Community Center’s packed Lyon Gallery. Campaign officials announced that — thanks in part to a single record-setting contribution — the community surpassed the 2013 “Give to Live” $1.8 million campaign goal.

“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous job they did in the fundraising project this year. We exceeded our goal by over $400,000,” said Dave Sigmon, BRUW campaign chair. “Things are really improving, the future of Bartlesville looks bright and the donations through this campaign go towards our agencies that will do just a tremendous amount of good in our community.”

During the celebratory event, BRUW Interim Director Jody Burch was officially announced as the organization’s new CEO and executive director.

“He had done an excellent job for us, and we’re looking forward to the future as he continues to lead the local United Way to even more service to the needy in the Bartlesville area,” said BRUW board president Donna Skelly.

Burch is looking forward to his new leadership role and believes there are “many exciting things in store” in 2014 and the future, he said.

A well-attended golf tournament, volleyball tournament, sporting clays event and even a 5K run in November all helped contribute to BRUW’s fundraising total of $2,266, 284. The generosity of individual donors, local retirees and area businesses also helped the campaign to soar well over its target.

The organization received its largest individual donation on record from former ConocoPhillips chairman and CEO Jim Mulva and his wife, Miriam. The amount of the donation, which met United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville level, was then doubled by CoP through its retiree matching contribution program.

“We would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Mulva for their exceptional generosity to the United Way and for remembering our community,” Burch said. “We will carefully consider how to best use the funds he has entrusted with us.”

Volunteerism also gave the campaign extra exposure as more than 1, 500 volunteers lent a helping hand to local nonprofits and schools during the annual Day of Caring held in September.

Burch expressed his gratitude for the hardworking volunteers and generous donors stating, “without all of our supporters, we would not be able to have the same impact on the local community.”

Funds raised by the BRUW — which covers Washington, Nowata and parts of Osage counties — are distributed to 14 agencies operating 35 different programs that provide essential health and human services to the community.

The reception concluded with Burch toasting this year’s campaign supporters and an offering that “we all give, advocate and volunteer and may we all live united.”

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