Despite economy, giving to United Way of Snohomish County rises

The United Way of Snohomish County‘s 2010 fundraising campaign raised an estimated $9.9 million. That’s a slight increase over the previous year’s total, even as the region struggles to recover from a deep recession.

The 2009 total was $9.8 million, said Deborah Squires, vice president of marketing for the county’s United Way. “We are up overall a little bit,” Squires said last week. “It’s a reflection on the generosity of the local community.”

Dennis Smith, the organization’s interim president and chief operating officer, said the 2010 amount is preliminary. A final total will be announced in June, he said.

At a wrap-up event March 10, United Way of Snohomish County honored donors and companies involved in outstanding campaigns. United Way provides grants to 102 local nonprofit programs, focusing on ways to benefit children and promote stable families and healthy communities.

The top two contributors, as in past years, were the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound, giving $1.7 million, and the Boeing Co. itself, with an $800,000 gift. The Boeing entities, Squires said, earned Premier Partners awards and don’t compete for other annual awards.

President’s Awards winners for the 2010 campaign were Cascade Bank, which raised $74,000, and Everett Public Schools, with a $119,000 gift.

Smith said the President’s Award, given to one nonprofit and one for-profit organization, is the highest honor a company can receive for an exemplary campaign.

Superintendent Gary Cohn, of the Everett district, challenged principals and administrators to do “10 More,” borrowing from a United Way theme aimed at boosting donations and volunteerism. Smith said Everett Public Schools’ $119,000 donation was an increase of about 20 percent over the previous year.

Cascade Bank chief executive officer Carol Nelson and campaign managers Judy Austin and Lynda Nelson were also recognized. Smith noted an idea to have bank workers wear United Way “Live United” T-shirts and jeans for 10 Fridays, during which customers were asked to donate.

President’s Awards aren’t necessarily tied to highest totals. “We really look at companies that have gotten in the spirit of it,” Squires said. “Two things really make a difference: If the CEO, the head person, is supportive and involved, and if they will hold meetings with employees and talk about United Way.

“And we’re looking more and more at companies engaged in volunteering and advocacy work,” she said.

Squires said about 450 United Way campaigns were run locally. Although the $9.9 million includes money from the Combined Federal Campaign at Naval Station Everett, Squires explained that the military fundraisers are not run by United Way of Snohomish County.

“Campaigns we manage and run were up 6 percent,” she said.

Other United Way 2010 campaign award winners:

•Chair Challenge Awards: Mike Miller, CEO of Campbell’s StockPot, and Marci Larsen, Mukilteo School District superintendent.

Employee Campaign Manager of the Year Awards: Allison Ellersick, Rick LaPorte and Kurt Loring of Fluke Corporation; Bill Aldrich of JAMCO America Inc.; Mary Ann Ballew and Sibyl Martin of Marysville School District; Daniel Gaona and Becky Mackenstadt of Vine Dahlen; Katherine Hale and Sally Malan of Washington School Information Processing.

Community Impact Partner Award: Philips Healthcare and Marysville School District.

Labor Partnership Award: Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Locals 183 and 644, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77.

Best New Campaign: Electroimpact Inc.

Live United Award: AT&T Mobility.

The 2010 campaign also included a United Way “Taking Care of Basics” Sweepstakes. Three donors were winners. For one year, Michelle Coates received $35 per week for gas; Paul MacNaughton won $100 a week for food; and Dwight Lawseth won up to $1,000 per month for rent or mortgage payments. “It’s totally a drawing open to the whole community,” Squires said.

Kim Buike, former commanding officer of Naval Station Everett, served as 2010 United Way campaign chairman. Sue Ambler, CEO of Workforce Development Council Snohomish County will lead the 2011 campaign.

Sam Smith, a project engineer at Electroimpact Inc. in Mukilteo, was chairman of his company’s fundraising effort, recognized with the Best New Campaign award.

Smith said Friday that the aircraft assembly equipment manufacturer contributed to United Way years ago, but hadn’t in years. With so many affected by the troubled economy, Smith said it was time to give. The company raised about $17,000, he said.

“I’m hoping to build on it,” Smith said. “The company has its feet on the ground. We can look outward, rather than just provide jobs for people.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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