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How could you improve upon a perfect summer evening, with great weather and a light supper of fruit and wine in Undulata Farm’s charming historic home?
Just throw in about a hundred or so people, with former Gov. Martha Layne Collins and Bobby Hudson to inspire them, and you’ll have the 2011 Metro United Way campaign kickoff.
Roberta Steutermann, donor relationship manager of MUW, had asked Hudson, who is president of the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation, to head fundraising efforts in Shelby County, in the hopes, she said, that his popularity and his ties with people in the business sector could boost sagging contributions.
It’s still early in the game, but judging from the well-attended kickoff festivities Tuesday night at Undulata Farm, with people spilling out onto the spacious veranda, it would seem that strategy may turn out to be effective.
“I didn’t know I had so many friends,” Hudson said with a chuckle, surrounded by people, many of whom were waiting to hand him money or pledges to get this year’s campaign in full swing.
Steutermann said Shelby County raised $239,740 last year, short of the $260,000 goal.
“Our goal for the 2010/2011 campaign is $300,000,” she said. “But we know that no mater what goal we set, it will not be enough to meet all the needs that exist.”
Hudson addressed the crowd from the elegant winding staircase of the mansion and Collins, who spoke about the importance of making sure that all of Shelby’s residents have a good quality of life.
“We are blessed in this community, but we still have to recognize that there are needy people here who need a hand up,” she said.
“There are children here who don’t want to see a snow day, because they need to go to school to have a meal.”
Collins talked about the importance of working not only to make the MUW campaign successful but also for the betterment of society at large.
“Times are tough, but I think people look up to us in this county to be role model for the state. I’m an old school teacher, and it really bothers me to think kids could get a better education in other countries than they can in the United States.”
Collins said she hoped people in Shelby County would work hard to build a strong MUW campaign.
“I know this community will pull together for United Way,” she said.
Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger said he thought the turnout was “absolutely fantastic.”
“This just goes to show how important United Way is in Shelby County, and how many people realize how important it is to support it,” he said.
Betty Jean Chatham and her daughter, Sarahbeth Farabee, who listened to Collins’ speech from an antique sofa, said they were also pleased to be a part of the MWU’s opening festivities.
“I am just delighted to be here on two counts,” Farabee said. “This is just a charming historic home, and I am a big believer in the United Way.”
Farm Bureau, Commonwealth Bank and Citizens Union Bank sponsored the event. Pat Hargadon, a Farm Bureau agent and a MUW committee member, said he was very pleased.
“It was just a fantastic evening that really helped to set the tone to get the campaign going,” he said.
Said Steutermann: “It was a fantastic night, and I am so excited to see what it will produce for our community.”