The United Way of Denton County raised $2,068,026 during its 2012 fundraising campaign.
The organization announced the amount at the United Tribute event Saturday night in Fort Worth.
This is the first time since 2009 the organization has raised at least $2 million.
Gary Henderson, president and CEO of United Way of Denton County, said the organization worked to better communicate the needs of the county.
“We feel like donors respond very generously when they know their community and they know who needs help,” he said.
Donations increased by 13 percent from 2011 to 2012, he said.
Henderson said the organization communicated with supporters what happened from 2000 to 2010, showing how the community dramatically grew and the needs increased.
United Way focuses on improving three areas of people’s lives: education, income and health, Henderson said. In Denton County, he said, factors contributing to the increased needs include one in three children are at risk of dropping out of school; 90,000 residents are food-insecure, which means they don’t know from where their next meal is coming; and 15 percent of adults who are 25 and older didn’t finish high school.
The organization also eliminated a staff position and now functions with six staff members and 12 interns from local universities.
“That resonated out in the workplace,” he said. “And they heard very clear what the needs were.”
Besides announcing how much the 2012 campaign raised, the United Tribute event was about fun, entertainment and expressing gratitude for supporters.
Bettye Myers, a kinesiology professor at Texas Woman’s University, was recognized with the inaugural Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian Award.
“There really was no question that Dr. Bettye Myers should receive the first humanitarian award and we should name it after her,” Henderson said.
Myers is a past United Way board chairwoman, a life member of the organization’s board of directors and has served with numerous organizations throughout the community, he said.
She will also have a school named in her honor. The Denton school board voted in August to name the district’s seventh middle school for Myers.
There was also a dancing competition Saturday night. The community nominated people to dance during the event. Chris Shade, James Stauver, Joey Hawkins, Karina Ramírez, Kay Wright, Pam Wat, Chrissy Mallouf and Tom Tweeddale danced with partners from the TWU dance department.
The dancers practiced all this month under the guidance of TWU professor Gladys Keeton.
“They really wanted to bring the community into the planning process,” Henderson said.
Former Dancing with the Stars contestant Jake Pavelka, who grew up in Denton, was the master of ceremonies.
Results from the competition were not available at press time.
While Saturday night was a time to celebrate and say thanks to supporters, the organization has already started fundraising for 2013.
With the needs of the county, officials feel they need to aggressively grow the campaign, he said.
“We know there is no doubt we need to continue to do more,” Henderson said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are other awards announced Saturday night at the United Way of Denton County’s celebration of the 2012 campaign.
* Create Lasting Change Award — DATCU, recommended because of its workplace campaign successes, creative special events like DATCU DASH, and allow their employees to volunteer almost every area of UWDC including campaign cabinet, marketing, project blueprint, allocations, leaders on loan, speakers bureau, golf tournament and financial stability coalition.
* Advancing the Common Good Award — Denton Record-Chronicle, recommended because of its volunteerism, in-kind donations and campaign results that in 2012 dramatically helped UWDC improve community awareness and overall visibility; and despite staff reductions continue to strongly support UWDC through workplace campaign efforts.
* Better Tomorrow Award — Denton school district, recommended because of its support of UWDC’s DINE UNITED program specifically Denton High School class of 2013, its financial support for the Pre-K Coalition and Ready Rosie community-wide rollout, and increased its campaign from 2011.
* Community Spirit Award — 2012 Service Division Volunteers, recommended because this year’s Service Division achieved an all-time high in workplace campaign results by exceeding the 51-year historic high by more than 16 percent.
* Chairman’s Choice Award — Peterbilt, recommended because once again this organization gave the largest corporate donation, achieved the largest UWDC campaign and since 2002 has contributed nearly $4 million to UWDC.
SOURCE: United Way of Denton County