Guest Column: Sue Wilcox Driving Force Behind United Way
During this time of Thanksgiving, as we near the end of this year’s United Way of Portage County Annual Campaign, I want to recognize a member of this community who has worked tirelessly to make a positive difference for countless local residents.
United Way of Portage County has been an integral part of the foundation of this community and has accomplished extraordinary things during the past many years.
This would not have been possible without the leadership and tireless efforts of Sue Wilcox.
Sue started employment with United Way of Portage County in 1989 and became its executive director in 1998. The first year she was executive director, the campaign goal was $1,367,000. This year, Sue’s 17th year as executive director, the campaign goal is $2.8 million.
During Sue’s time as executive director, our local United Way has reached its campaign goal every single year. And- most importantly to Sue- United Way has been able to reach out through its membership organizations to help support on average one member of our community every 15 minutes of every day of every year because of these successful annual fund-raising campaigns.
Sue Wilcox would have told me not to write this. So I didn’t ask her for permission. She correctly points out year after year the importance of, and pride she has for, the incredible staff that she works with. They are a wonderful group of talented people dedicated to United Way and this community. She also points out the countless volunteers that serve United Way in so many capacities, from fund-raising, to community visioning, to board service, to behind the scenes support at the many events held in support of United Way and its membership organizations throughout the year.
Yet those of us who have had the privilege of working with Sue throughout her many years at United Way know that the ongoing success of this essential community organization is founded in Sue’s integrity, vision, passion, caring and blood, sweat, and tears. Especially the tears.
Sue has never focused on the numbers. She has focused on how best to help people in this community. She has been a visionary in pushing forward ongoing initiatives to address emerging issues in Portage County. She has had a laser focus on doing long-range planning soundly based on ongoing community-wide assessments to both identify and anticipate present and future needs, especially of the poor and under-served in Portage County. She has ensured through her leadership that these proactive long-range plans are implemented throughout the community in a targeted efficient problem-solving way.
The United Way of Portage County is currently nearing the end of its annual campaign. It is not yet certain that this year’s fundraising goal will be met.
If you have not yet made a donation this year, or if you are able to add to your donation as the end of campaign nears, please know that any donation you make will be gratefully appreciated and essential to the success of this Campaign.
United Way of Portage County would not be successful in its efforts without the ongoing generosity of thousands of caring individuals in this community. Sue Wilcox is also key to that continuing success and has made a lasting positive difference in her leadership role at United Way of Portage County. We are all the better for her service and dedication.
Let’s do our part to help Sue and United Way make campaign in 2015.
Meg Erler is a past board member of the United Way of Portage County.