WARREN - United Way of Trumbull County began its 2012 fundraising appeal this past week as volunteers reported initial pledges and contributions totaling $150,551.
The campaign, which supports more than 50 health and human service programs, kicked off with a gathering at the Packard Shelter House with Michael J. O'Brien, chairman of the United Way of Trumbull County, announcing the contributions to date.
Jennifer Myers, an early childhood supervisor at the Trumbull County Educational Service Center and former special education teacher and supervisor for the Warren City Schools, said research points to the significance of early childhood education, including turning everyday moments into fun learning experiences.
"Research has indicated that children are literally 'born learning,' which means five years of education takes place before a child ever enters kindergarten," said Myers, keynote speaker at the event.
The UWTC's Born Learning initiative is designed to help adults interact with children to boost language and literacy development. The "Born Learning" trail, a series of learning activities, promotes fun and games - important components of early childhood learning.
"We know what happens in a child's early years really matters, for success in life and for school readiness," said Thomas J. Krysiek, UWTC president and CEO.
"Our new 'Born Learning' initiative is designed to help parents and caregivers provide young children with early learning opportunities, an initiative we believe to be of significance,'' he said.
O'Brien said that "the measure of a community is how it treats its less fortunate."
"Using that standard, ours has been a successful and caring community and the United Way has been the catalyst of that success in caring," O'Brien said.
He noted that Trumbull County has seldom faced greater human care needs than it does presently, and because of fewer resources the importance of the United Way appeal is greater than ever.
O'Brien said the funds raised during the annual appeal help address the critical human care needs of the community, through programs and services that serve one in three Trumbull County residents each year.
John A. Guarnieri, chairman of the United Way board of directors said Campaign 2012 promises to be a most challenging task, made even more difficult as the local economy and work force continues to recover and the demands for human-care needs by Trumbull County residents continue at record levels.
"United Way and its service providers will be at the forefront to meet this demand, but increased funding and expanded volunteer support will be essential," Guarnieri said.
O'Brien explained that the United Way board of directors again set a nontraditional goal for that reflects its business model to assist in solving community problems, not merely raising dollars.
"Raising dollars is not our primary objective, it is a means to an end," he said.
The campaign chairman noted the goal includes several objectives:
Expanding the United Way's volunteer and contributor base;
Expansion of community impact initiatives;
Increasing participation from employees of companies - both large and small;
Increasing corporate giving among both multi-national and hometown firms;
Growth in leadership participation;
Building increased awareness of the United Way's value to our community.
O'Brien reported the amount raised to date was through the efforts of early pacesetter solicitation at 14 area businesses and 22 United Way-affiliated service providers.
The UWTC has addressed local health and human needs with planning, allocation and fund-raising activities since 1923. Through its network of service providers, United Way mobilizes resources to address problems identified as being of the highest priority.