Community

United Way’s annual campaign begins with training leaders

United Way of Kitsap County is preparing for its annual campaign to raise money for non-profit organizations and this year there is an emphasis on community.

“We are really pushing our ‘Keep it local, keep it Kitsap’ mentality,” said Patricia Hennessy, director of resource development. “There is some wonderful work being done in our community.”

Each year, the organization has hosted a luncheon to kick off its fund-raising activities, but Hennessy said this year a breakfast will be held instead.

“It will take place Sept. 11 at the Kitsap Conference Center,” she said. “That is also the National Day of Service, so it will be like a mini-Day of Caring.”

This year’s chairmen are former Bremerton Mayor and current Port of Bremerton CEO Cary Bozeman and Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington.

This week, United Way has been training a new batch of campaign executives, volunteers who will be charged with approaching businesses about partnering with United Way.

The three-day training ranges from meeting with United Way partners to public speaking experience, according to Hennessy.

“About 70 to 85 percent of our funds come from these hardworking CEs,” she said.

Hennessy said United Way is the leading supporter of organizations dealing with health and human services and the demand for those services is rising in the deflated economy. She added people should not think of contributions to United Way as going to United Way, but rather as going to the community.

“Even though people are uncertain about the economy, they should be certain about charity,” she said.

Jamie Osterman volunteered for the campaign executive training and is looking forward to serving the organization.

“I’ll be doing presentations to facilitate the creation of workplace campaigns for local businesses,” she said.

Linda Testa, another volunteer and member of United Way of Kitsap’s Board of Directors, said the greatest aspect of United Way is its transparency.

“People can see exactly where their money goes,” she said. “It eliminates having to choose where to give. A donation to the United Way is a donation to all of the partners it serves.”

Kathy Nelson, executive director of Leadership Kitsap, also was part of the training taking place at the Fourth Street facility in Bremerton.

“The most interesting part for me was when some of the agencies that benefit from the United Way’s campaign came to speak,” she said. “I don’t think the community truly realizes the impact United Way has. We’re all in this together.”

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