PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — As chilly fall weather sets in and the region’s neediest citizens begin to worry about how they will pay for heating oil and other necessities, The United Way of Aroostook is set to kick off its annual fundraising drive to support community groups and organizations.
Claudia Stevens, executive director of the group, said this week that the official kickoff of the organization’s $470,000 2011-2012 fundraising campaign will be held on Thursday at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
Dan Bagley, a Presque Isle resident who is involved with numerous organizations, will serve as this year’s campaign chairperson.
The United Way of Aroostook works to support The County’s most needy people. Money raised through the group’s annual campaign supports local agencies that administer programs to assist at-risk youths, the elderly, homeless and many others. More than 20 agencies and programs are funded by the agency, including the Hope and Justice Project, ACAP Child & Family Services, Catholic Charities Maine and Meals on Wheels.
The United Way of Aroostook met its target 2010-2011 goal of $520,000 despite the struggling economy. The goal was $20,000 higher than the previous year. The economic downturn made it quite difficult, however, and the group expected it would come up short until the Paradis family, which owns six grocery stores throughout the state, helped the organization achieve its goal with a $1,500 donation.
As the newest chairman, Bagley said he is honored to take the helm of the fundraising drive.
“It is a good feeling to be affiliated with an organization where 99.6 percent of the money raised stays in The County,” he said. “I am looking forward to this campaign year and to the support of the people of Aroostook as we work together to achieve our goal.”
In the past, the United Way of Aroostook has generated campaign funding through events such as a golf tournament, a dinner and auction and the Little Junior Miss Presque Isle Pageant. Its most lucrative fundraiser is its Northern Star competition, a vocal contest featuring contestants from The County and western New Brunswick.
The UMFK kickoff will begin at 8 a.m. in the Nadeau Hall Teleconference room.
A second event will take place at 8 a.m. Friday in the campus center of the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
Stevens invited people to come to the events to see what the United Way of Aroostook has planned for the next year.
“At the heart of our United Way are the volunteers and donors who make the commitment to respond to the needs of their neighbors,” she said. “United Way of Aroostook has served as a lifeline for those County people who struggle every day. When you make a gift to United Way of Aroostook, you invest in a network of vital services and powerful solutions that help to achieve our goals.”