It was another successful year for the Warren County United Fund, which exceeded its goal by more than $9,000.
On Thursday, for the last time, Executive Director Mike Hostovich opened the United Fund's annual Appreciation Luncheon and Annual Meeting by thanking everyone involved in the campaign for continuing the decade-long streak of successful campaigns.
In 2012, the Torchlight Campaign exceeded the $645,000 goal by raising $654,079. Hostovich pointed out that the work for the campaign went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
From left, United Fund of Warren County Torchlight Campaign Executive Director Mike Hostovich presents Overall Campaign Co-chairs Sonia Probst and Gary Lester with the Co-chair Extraordinaire Award for their efforts in the 2013 campaign.
Because Merl Rice, president of the United Fund's board of directors, was having difficulty with his voice, Hostovich introduced the officers and the board of directors.
Hostovich quoted a letter the United Fund received in 2002 from Robert Sokolski of Whirley DrinkWorks, noting he had read from the letter each year to point out how the donations came from "the top down." Sokolski explained in the letter that his company viewed assisting the United Fund as a "true business expense, not just a charity," adding that Whirley donated $100 per employee.
In recognition of the company's commitment to the community, Hostovich presented Sokolski with the annual Business Recognition Award. Sokolski said, "When I received the invitation, I wondered 'Do I have to put on a tie?' I left the tie in the car." To the Warren corporate world, he said, "Don't be reticent or bashful, just be proud."
A Special Appreciation Award was presented to Bob Klebacha for Bollinger Enterprise's fundraising efforts of $14,822 over the last five campaigns, and an increase of 17 percent over last year. Even though the company was one of the recipients of the fund, employees "dipped into their own pockets."
The Community Spirit Award was given to Mary and Chase Putnam, who also work behind the scenes at the Library Theater, the Warren Symphony, and the Warren County Historical Society.
Jamie Steffan, campaign vice president, read a proclamation from Warren Mayor Mark Phillips recognizing the past 10 years efforts by Cathy Rice and Hostovich.
Finally, Hostovich presented the Co-Chair Extraordinaire Award to Overall Campaign Co-chairs Sonia Probst and Gary Lester
Lester and Probst recognized the exemplary work done by the Industrial/Finance Division, the Special Gifts Committee, the Professional Division Committees, the Commercial Division Committee, the Public Service and Schools Committee, and the Hospital Committee.
A short skit reminiscent of Johnny Carson's Karnak character featured "Hosto the Great" as a psychic deriving answers from questions in "hermetically sealed envelopes."
Hosto: "Tenure". Lester: "How long has Mike been the executive director?"
Hosto: "Over 400 thousand, more than 6.3 million." Probst: "Over the last ten years, how many people have been helped, and how much money has been raised?"
Hosto: "Absolutely nada, nothing, zilch, zilch." Lester: "How much money has been spent on administrative breakfasts, lunches, and dinners?"
Local United Fund partner agencies who will receive funding from the 2012 Torchlight Campaign this year are the Warren Chapter of the American Red Cross, A Safe Place, The Allegheny Community Center, Bollinger Enterprises, Inc., the Boy Scouts, Caring For Life, Crescent Park Clinic, Don Mills Achievement Center, Family Services, Girl Scouts, Hospice of Warren County, Jefferson DeFrees Family Center, New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc., RSVP, Ruth M. Smith Center, The Salvation Army, Sheffield Area Hospitality Center, YMCA, Youth Volunteer Corps and the 4-H Program of Warren County.
Hostovich read a line from an old rock song, "Every new beginning comes from another beginning's end" to announce his retirement from the United Fund after ten years of service. He will remain on the job until later this spring.