PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Under a cloudless blue sky and despite the lack of wind, the United Way of Aroostook was successful in kicking off its “uplifting” annual campaign with a paper balloon launch in the heart of the city Tuesday afternoon.
About 50 people gathered in Riverfront Park to officially kick off the 2010 fundraising campaign.
The United Way of Aroostook works to support The County’s most needy people. Money raised through the UWA’s annual campaign supports local agencies that administer programs to assist at-risk youths, the elderly, homeless and many others.
“It is a sobering thought, but what brings us here are thoughts of tougher times,” said Don Zillman, the president of the United Way of Aroostook’s board of directors. “This is going to be at tough campaign year, and we need your support, but we can do this.”
This year, the organization is hoping to raise $520,000 to meet the needs of Aroostook County residents, a target goal that has increased $20,000 over last year’s.
Twenty agencies and programs are funded by the Aroostook agency. Representatives from most of those agencies were at the kickoff, wearing T-shirts bearing the United Way’s slogan, “Live United.”
Virginia Joles is this year’s campaign chairwoman. She acknowledged that the UWA has set a “lofty” fiscal goal this year, but she said she felt the $520,000 figure could be met.
Claudia Stevens, executive director of the UWA, thanked the crowd for coming out to the fete, which featured informational displays from some of the agencies that are supported by the organization. Stevens said there is “no doubt” in her mind that the public will help the UWA meet its fundraising goal.
“Let’s join hands to build a stronger community,” she said Tuesday. “That is how we live united.”
As part of the celebration, the agency launched colorful 3-foot-tall paper balloons from the park’s gazebo. There was initial concern that the windless day would not allow for a successful launch, but all fears disintegrated when the first biodegradable balloon floated skyward.
The balloons represented each of the UWA’s agencies and its workplace campaigns.
The UWA met its campaign goal of $500,000 last year.
For more information, visit www.unitedwayaroostook.org.