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McAllister named Citizen of the Year

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

 

In less than a year as President and CEO of United Way of Orange County, Maureen McAllister has shined.

During the annual Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet, former Citizen of the Year Butch Campbell, spoke of the several nominations received this year and how one individual had several nominations. McAllister sat at her table unaware, at the time, that she was the individual Campbell was referring to as he continued highlighting the reasons she was nominated.

“The body of works speaks for itself,” Campbell said.

McAllister was instrumental in insuring the agencies the United Way partners with had what was needed to help residents after the historical storm Harvey struck the area on August 30.

“I am overwhelmed and very grateful for being named,” McAllister said. “There have been so many wonderful and deserving individuals who have received this honor in the past.  I cannot believe I was selected to join the ranks.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.   I am truly grateful for this award.”

United Way of Orange County was named non profit for the year by the chamber.

“28,000 homes were impacted by Harvey,” Mary McKenna said. “The agency was everywhere, even while their office was flooded all they had was those 28,000 in mind.”

United Way helped gather donations of money, food and cleaning supplies and while coordinating with the Cajun Navy, helped distribute to those in need.

McAllister said it would not be possible without the support of the community.

Business of the Year went to International Paper for their continued community service and investing in their employees. The company celebrated 50 year anniversary and employees 500 people.

Outgoing Chairman Joe Love passed the gavel to Incoming Chairman Tad McKee.

Love had spoken on his theme for the past year, Love Local.

“People talk in before and after the storm,” Love said. “After the storm, we all loved local.”

While the chamber also had to relocate after the storm flooded the building, it was actively involved with organizing, with Orange County Economic Development Director Jessica Hill, to have representatives from FEMNA and the SBA available to answer citizens questions.

The chamber has received several calls in reference to contractors, motels and restaurant recommendations since the storm. To date, they have recommended chamber member businesses over 300 times.

McKee was emotional as he accepted his new position.

“It is a great honor,” McKee said as he apologized for being emotional. “It is doubly meaningful as my father was chairman 60 years ago.”

McKee announced his theme for the coming year as ‘Be the change you want to see.’

“We all want better for Orange,” McKee said. “Better employment, better education, better healthcare. Involvement is the key.”