Letters to the Editor

Pacesetter Numbers Lift Drive

After two fund drives that fell short of their goals, the 2010-11 campaign of the United Way of Horry County is poised to kick off with several more Pacesetters than a year ago to complete their employee and corporate pledges before the annual drive that helps three dozen community service agencies.

As of Monday, 26 Pacesetters were signed up, a significant increase over the 17 Pacesetters last year. Julie Kopnicky, marketing and communications coordinator for the United Way, says the 26 is the same number as in the 2007-08 drive and one more than two years ago. A Pacesetter company completes its employee drive and corporate pledge by Sept. 17, a week before the 2010-11 drive kicks off. Pacesetters will be recognized at the annual Day of Caring on Sept. 24.

The campaign has a goal of $1,275,000, the approximate final tally of the 2009-10 campaign, which was 90 percent of the original goal that has been set to be in line with the total achieved the previous year. Finishing at 90 percent of the goal means that nine agencies or community groups were allocated less. The Coastal S.C. Chapter of the American Red Cross took a reduction of $10,000, as did the Salvation Army. For the Red Cross, the latest reduction followed a $10,000 reduction in 2009 - 23 percent less money from United Way.

There are four impact areas are basic need: food and shelter; promoting self-sufficiency; strong, safe, healthy families; successful youth and children. Seven new programs were added, and they are funded by a bequest that specified new programs.

Having 26 Pacesetters on board is a positive sign for the 2010-11 United Way drive, and perhaps no one is more encouraged than the campaign's chairman, Lance Thompson. "I think people have understood the need and want to step up. We're very encouraged about the positive response of the Pacesetter campaign," says the general manager of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Surfside Beach. The Nelson Jackson family is a "huge supporter of the United Way" and has been a Pacesetter for a number of years. Nelson Jackson died in February at the age of 89. "Mr. Jackson set the tone for everyone. He really was passionate about helping others," Thompson says.

After two campaigns that fell short of goals, Thompson readily acknowledges that the timing may not seem great for being drive chairman. "The challenges are great out there - when times are tough, the needs are greater." A native of Charlotte, N.C., Thompson was recruited to the area after finishing graduate school at Clemson University 25 years ago. He has seen "the spirit of our community" and is encouraged by the Pacesetters being back to 26.

He and Kopnicky and others in the United Way and community partners would like to have a few more Pacesetters. There is time to sign on and help launch the 2010-11 United Way fund drive on a high note. A strong start for the United Way campaign is surely a bellwether for better times.