When Rep. Todd Thomsen was young, his father would buy tickets to University of Oklahoma football games, then sell them to fans to pay for the game.
Thomsen said he still remembers the day when his father handed him and his friends a couple of tickets with orders to sell them.
“I don’t know how many of you all like to raise money, but not many people actually like to ask other people for money,” he said. “And you don’t actually like to put yourself out there because it’s easy for people to say ‘No,’ you look a little bit silly — all those kinds of things.
“But one thing I learned is that to do it and do it right, you’ve actually got to stick it out there and do it. And once you do it, you’re one of the few that does it, and you’ll get a response if you do it with some passion.”
Thomsen told the story during the Ada Regional United Way’s campaign kickoff luncheon, which took place Thursday at LegalShield. He used the anecdote to remind people of the importance of supporting the United Way, either financially or in other ways.
“They need you to be active about sticking up your hand and saying, ‘Hey, come and support United Way in whatever capacity that you can and be a part of this,’” he said. “And it takes a little bit of guts. It takes a little bit of courage.”
Helping social service agencies
The luncheon marked the official start of United Way’s annual fundraising campaign, which generates money for 15 local social service agencies. A volunteer committee reviews funding requests from member agencies, then decides how to distribute the funds.
Ninety-nine percent of the money stays in the community, and the remaining 1 percent goes to United Way of America for training and other expenses.
United Way officials are hoping to raise $230,000 for social service agencies this year, said Tino Gonzalez, who serves on the board of directors.
“We have chosen to be a little conservative this year, but please be aware that we hope that not only will we reach the goal of $230,000, but that we will work together as a community to meet the needs of our service provider agencies,” he said. “And hopefully, together we’ll be able to be back at the $300,000 mark that was raised just a few years ago.”
A poster board at the front of the auditorium displayed a large drawing of a thermometer, with varying levels marking progress toward this year’s goal. a sign at the top reminded people that this year’s goal is $230,000.
The thermometer showed that the United Way has raised 46 percent of the goal, or about $105,800 so far.
Several local businesses, known as Pacesetters, conducted internal campaigns that raised about $76,062 for the cause, said United Way board member Allyson McElroy. She urged the audience to help United Way hit its fundraising target this year.
“If we all work together to not only reach the goal but surpass this goal, our community will be impacted directly with the services provided by our member agencies,” she said.