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United Fund sets goal during kickoff

September 24, 2010
By DEAN WELLS dwells@timesobserver.com
Mike Hostovich nearly knocked Lincoln Sokolski out of his chair Thursday morning when he announced he wants to hit $5 million for the United Fund during this year’s Torchlight Campaign. “I think Lincoln just spit out his coffee,” Hostovich, the United Fund’s executive director quipped during the agency’s annual kickoff breakfast commemorating the start of the agency’s fundraising season. Hostovich was serious – kind of. “If we reach this year’s goal (of $645,000),” Hostovich said, “we will have raised a little over $5 million since I started with the United Fund eight years ago. For a county this size to raise that amount of money over eight years is remarkable.” The United Fund – the fundraising source for 21 various groups and agencies in Warren County – surpassed its fundraising goal of $640,000 last year, finishing with $645,122. Last year’s campaign co-chairs Lori McNeil and Sokolski return for an encore performance for the 2010 campaign. “Why mess with success?” Hostovich said of his decision to ask the duo to return as co-chairs. “One of the finest points of living here is Warren County helps its own financially and emotionally,” McNeil said of the success of last year’s Torchlight campaign. Sokolki said he believes reaching this year’s campaign goal may be a challenge due to the weak economy. “But I’m not big on excuses,” he said. “We find a way to achieve our sales goals at (Sokolski’s company) Whirley Drinkworks. I feel the same way about the United Fund. We are going to reach our goal this year. We’re going to reach it next year. We’re going to reach it every year. When we leave here today, I challenge everyone to get started. Don’t wait. Hard work breeds luck and success. “We know we can (raise $645,000). We already did it last year. But it will take a total team effort.” Sokolski estimated that if each person in Warren County contributed $16.13 to this year’s Torchlight campaign, the United Fund would reach it’s goal. “When you break it down to that number, how can we not succeed,” Sokolski said. Funds have already begun flowing into the United Fund’s coffers for this year’s campaign, according to Hostovich. In the spring, the Youngsville Middle School raised $1,350 for the 2010 campaign via the school’s annual “penny war.” Hostovich said that the school has raised nearly $10,000 for the United Fund via “penny wars” over the years. According to Hostovich, First Energy has also gotten its annual contributions underway. The company, which has a reputation for making the highest contribution to the Torchlight campaign per employee, has agreed to raise its contribution by 13 percent per employee. The Warren Bon-Ton opened its campaign on Saturday and has already raised 92.4 percent of its goal, Hostovich said. In addition, Hostovich said, Lincoln Sokolski made a unique contribution to the 2010 campaign several weeks ago when he was married. Sokolski and his wife, Salsa, asked guests to their wedding to make a donation to the United Fund in lieu of bringing gifts. The couple raised nearly $3,500 for the Torchlight campaign. “I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but I’m trying to talk Lincoln into renewing his vows every year,” Hostovich joked.
 
 

 

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