United Way reaches goal despite worsening economy

RUTLAND - Times are tough for many Vermonters, but that fact didn't dampen the spirit of generosity in Rutland County, according to Chuck Sharp, director of United Way of Rutland County.

United Way of Rutland County had reason to celebrate last week when Sharp announced that the organization reached the big community goal of $610,397. The director, and most of Rutland's "heavy hitters" in the business community, joined forces to celebrate the good news; they assembled at United Way's annual meeting and campaign celebration event held at the Rutland Holiday Inn Jan. 15.

United Way Board of Directors President Bob Wetherby was on hand, too. He thanked the audience and local business leaders who helped bring in the funds. The meeting was also an opportunity for Wetherby to introduce incoming President Marleen Cenate. Rich Carlson, United Way's campaign chairman, acted as M.C. for event's annual presentation of Rutland County awards.

"Last year United Way funded agencies responded to over 27,000 requests for assistance from residents in our community," said Carlson. "Supporting United Way is the single best way you can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, and I am happy that the residents of our community responded the way that they did. Rutland County is a place where neighbors continue to care about each other."

Carlson recognized fellow campaign fundraisers Nicole Fabian, Marie DuBray, Kelly Smith, Nancy Brower and Dave Ballou with a brass plaque. Volunteers and agency representatives gave the campaign team a standing ovation.

The Top New Campaign award was presented to New England Woodcraft for an outstanding first employee campaign.

The Key Person of the Year awards for nonprofit and for profit companies involved in this year's campaign went to Castleton State College and Hannaford Supermarket. Store Manager Gary Trudo, Karen DellVeneri and JoAnn Marshall accepted the award on behalf of Hannaford's, while Jan Rousse accepted the award on behalf of Castleton State College.

Receiving special awards were Chittenden Bank for the Really Big Show XIII plus two local newspapers.

The Volunteer of the Year award for 2008 was presented to Carlson.

The record $610,397 raised will support 33 nonprofit health and community service organizations in Rutland County, Sharp said.

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