With a little more than one-third of the 2006 appeal behind them, leaders of the United Way of Mercer County’s annual fund-raising effort are pleased with the progress.

In its first public report of the campaign, the United Way announced that it has received $355,776 in pledges, or nearly 36 percent of its $1 million goal.

“I think the campaign is going extremely well,” said James L. Micsky, executive director of the United Way. “The Campaign Cabinet volunteers are totally committed, as is everyone involved, to achieving our goals.”

Micsky is optimistic about reaching that $1 million goal. “John and Kathy Lima, our co-chairpersons, have been wonderful. Their leadership has been exemplary, and they’re doing everything in their power to see that we succeed. And I think that the county is ready to meet that goal. We need to do that.”

Thursday night, the United Way hosted a reception for its Honor Society in the Carriage House at the Buhl Mansion, where members of that group were recognized for their contributions.

The evening was funded in its entirety by Winner International and First National Bank of Mercer County.

Members of the Honor Society contribute at least $1,000 each to the United Way campaign annually, and Micsky noted that the reception was a small way to acknowledge their community spirit.

Karen Winner-Hale, chief executive officer of Winner International Corp., and Gary Roberts, president and chief executive officer of First National Bank of Pennsylvania, offered brief remarks, thanking Honor Society members for their leadership. They serve as co-chairpersons of the Honor Society division.

“These are folks (Honor Society members) in the community who are leaders in United Way giving. They truly understand and realize the importance of the agencies funded by the United Way in our community, and they support it accordingly,” Micsky said. The goal for the Honor Society is $175,000.

He added that as the rest of the campaign unfolds, one of the major hurdles – as it is every year – will be the challenge to ensure that residents understand the role that the United Way plays in funding its 23-member agencies.

“Our agencies, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army to name only two, offer vital services to the community, and it’s the United Way that provides a major share of their dollars so we can do those important things for the people in our communities.”

He recalled that when a tornado ravaged areas of South Pymatuning Township and Clark several years ago, the Red Cross was one of the first agencies on the scene and was able to perform its role in that crisis largely because of funding it gets from the local United Way.

“The agencies and the United Way go hand in hand. They are the partnership that looks after and takes care of so many diverse and important segments of our community,” Micsky noted.

Of the 12 campaign divisions, Industrial is the leader to date, reaching 82 percent of its $250,000 goal, while Construction is second at 68 percent of its $29,000 target.

Francis Petrini, who is retired from Abraham-Petrini Insurance, and Robert Chamberlain are leaders of the Construction Division, while Meg Grober of Interstate Chemical Co., Inc. and Tim Feeney of Wheatland Tube Co. head the Industrial Division.

The campaign runs through December.

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