United Way of OC to see more improvements in coming year

Published 1:34 pm Sunday, March 10, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Harvey may have had a major impact on United Way of Orange County to raise funds but the non-profit agency to date has reached 92.8 percent of the goal for 2018.

“Fortunately, we have a hardworking and dedicated campaign chair in Ed Barr,” outgoing Board Chair Michael Cedars said. “Because of the storm-related issues, our organization had to look for alternative ways to collect funds for the agencies, including Granger Chevrolet 5K and the Dueling Pianos event.”

United Way is anticipating receiving unreported pledges so it can continue to maintain agency funding. It partners with 22 agencies.

United Way of Orange County President Maureen McAllister described the last year as a blur.

“Hurricane Harvey had devastated Orange County and our office was not spared,” McAllister said. “We have learned that disaster recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”

As well as raising funds for Harvey recovery, United Way also serves on the Unmet Needs Committee for Orange County Disaster Rebuild.

“We also serve on a regional level, as a Partner Member of Southeast Texas Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster (VOAD).”

This year also marked the first Chemical Row Chili Cookoff. The event was such a success, it looks to be an annual event, according to McAllister. “The Cookoff was new and came from Ed Barr. He asked what can we do different?”

United Way offers more than funding for the agencies that it partners with. It also held a Partner Agency Mixer and a Best Practices for Nonprofits Workshop in 2018.

In 2019, the non-profit plans to hold two of each event to help the agencies to network and continue their professional development.

“We partnered with the Southeast Texas Nonprofit Development Center, United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County, and OneStar Foundation to co-host the Texas Nonprofit Summit,” McAllister said. “The event was held in Port Arthur as well as in Orange.

McAllister added United Way would continue to look for new ways to improve its reach out to the community.

Shane Johns, treasurer for United Way, said some companies went above and beyond following Harvey.