United Way of Will County raises nearly $4 million
By Tony Graf email@example.com June 20, 2012 10:22PM
Beth Hughes, president and CEO of Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center and campaign chair for United Way of Will County, (center) greets guests during a banquet celebrating the end of this year's campaign for United Way of Will County at the Joliet Junior College Renaissance Center in Joliet Wednesday, June 20, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 23, 2012 7:41AM
The United Way of Will County Campaign rallied to surpass its fundraising goal, as donors came through with generosity during tough economic times.
This year’s campaign raised $3,945,459 to help those in need, said Beth Hughes, campaign chairwoman, to loud applause Wednesday night at the Renaissance Center in downtown Joliet.
“We’re all here for the same thing. We’re all here to change lives. I couldn’t be more proud to serve as your campaign chair,” said Hughes, who has completed her second consecutive year as chairwoman, with the campaign exceeding the goal both times.
The amount raised is $25,458 over the goal for the 2011-12 campaign. However, it took a big rally — during the past two weeks — to hit the goal, much less exceed it.
“Unfortunately, we came to a point that our donations started to slow down. At our last roundtable cabinet meeting, we were projecting a $120,000 shortfall of our $3,920,001 goal,” Hughes said. “Achieving our goal looked bleak, but we continued on our mission to change the world and change our community, to continue living united.”
“Our campaign cabinet team, our volunteers, the wonderful United Way staff continued to work tirelessly to make one more phone call, compose one more e-mail, draft one more letter,” she said.
In four weeks, the campaign was able to decrease the shortfall by 50 percent.
“We only had $60,000 to go, and two weeks. We knew if we wanted to change the world by changing our community, we couldn’t give up,” Hughes said.
“We surged ahead, and we did not stop. Our momentum, our confidence in achieving our goal, may have slowed down a bit, but we never stopped,” she said.
Late last summer, the campaign leadership team met and determined the overall goal for the 2011-12 campaign. Leaders knew there were many factors to consider.
“The Great Recession had brought a new meaning to the term ‘lean workplace.’” Hughes said. “We heard of layoffs and staff reductions. All of this talk became far too common. Unfortunately that only meant fewer donors in the workplace, and it also meant more people reaching out for help.”
“The state budget was not getting any better, and these devastating budget cuts continue to impact our local agencies. Again, less funding to go around, and even more people reaching out for help. This unfortunate situation became cyclical. Fewer donors, less funding for our social services, and the number of people needing help continued to grow,” she said.
“So was this our new normal? Absolutely not. The leadership team refused to believe that. I refused to believe that,” Hughes said. “The economy could no longer be the excuse not to give. It needed to be the reason to give.”
This year’s top 10 supporting companies and employee groups were: ComEd, an Exelon company, raising $400,331; ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Co., $355,225; Chicago Bridge and Iron, $219,794; Illinois Tool Works, $197,207; Citgo Petroleum, $192,372; United Parcel Service, $169,692; Caterpillar Inc., $140,885; Provena Health/Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, $95,263; Midwest Generation, $89,104; and Nicor Gas, an AGL Resource company, $78,220.
Hughes, president and chief executive officer of Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, was recognized for outstanding work as this year’s campaign chairwoman.
The United Way of Will County provides funding for local not-for-profit partner agencies that serve residents of the county.
For more information, call 815-723-2500, or visitwww.uwwill.org.