TERRE HAUTE —
The United Way of the Wabash Valley celebrated another successful year Monday night – a year in which it raised more than $1.85 million for needy families and individuals in the community.
B.J. Riley, president of the United Way Board of Directors, announced at the organization’s annual meeting that the 2013 campaign total of $1,858,912, a figure surpassing the campaign goal by nearly $9,000.
“There were hundreds of people that helped with this year’s drive,” Riley, Tribune-
Star publisher, told more than 400 people at Hulman Center. “I’m amazed at the ability of our community to raise up and help out.”
The United Way provides funding for 30 charitable organizations in the Wabash Valley and also organizes its own programs, such as Success by Six, an early education program, and Healthier by 2020, a wellness program.
Joni Wise, administrator of the Vigo County Health Department and a United Way community impact team leader, spoke to the meeting about Healthier by 2020, a new program designed to improve the health of people of the Wabash Valley. The program improves accessibility to healthy food through the Wabash Valley Mobile Market, teaches families to prepare healthy meals and promotes physical exercise.
“It’s essential to improve physical activity,” Wise said, adding she expects to report positive outcomes from the program at next year’s annual meeting.
Marla Flowers, a former United Way campaign chairwoman and long-time volunteer, spoke about another new United Way endeavor – a children’s book called “One Day I Could Be.” The book teaches kids about career opportunities available in the area, including barber, veterinarian, website designer, doctor, banker and more.
“We look forward to maybe a Volume 2,” Flowers said of the book, copies of which are $15 and available at the United Way offices at 2901 Ohio Boulevard.
The keynote address at this year’s meeting was delivered by Bob Baesler, a fourth-generation grocer whose business, Baesler’s Market, has become synonymous with the annual United Day for United Way and supports dozens of charitable events each year. The market also assists the United Way’s new Mobile Market, Wise noted.
Baesler, who received a standing ovation from the crowd after his talk, spoke of the three most important decisions a person makes in his or her life: How to make a living, with whom to share your life and for whom to live it.
The meeting also honored Bernice Helman who recently received a national Realtor award, allowing the United Way of the Wabash Valley to receive a $10,000 donation.
Wise received the United Way’s annual Solomon Award, which recognizes those who successfully help the organization distribute its funding. Baesler received the UWWV’s Richard D. Newport Award, which is presented to the person who helps bring about increased participation in the United Way.
Money raised by the United Way of the Wabash Valley remains in the Wabash Valley, said Troy Fears, United Way executive director. The Wabash Valley is a great place to live, he added. “It’s up to us to continue to make it a better place to live.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@