More than 100 educators and staff members from throughout the St. Tammany Parish Public School System met in Mandeville Tuesday to take part in the kick-off program for this year’s United Way fund-raising campaign. A video was shown giving an overview of the many ways United Way funds are used to help children, their parents, and others throughout the area.
William Brady, Assistant Superintendent of Administration, welcomed the group to the David Treen Instructional Technology Center and explained the procedures for getting the information out about this year’s campaign. The goal for this year is $185,083.
Shirleen Carter, Executive Director with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana St. Tammany Regional Office, expressed her appreciation for the School System’s participation, and especially the hard work of the individuals gathered in the room. She told how recent budget cuts had hit the United Way, making it necessary to do more with less staff.
“Last year, with the economy being what it was and everything looking like it was going downhill, I can tell you the St. Tammany Parish Public School System stepped up, heard the call and responded,” she reported. The amount raised last year totaled $168, 075. Assistant Superintendent Brady reported that last year schools and support sites throughout the St. Tammany Parish Public School System contributed more to the annual United Way campaign than ever before.
Superintendent W. L. “Trey” Folse, III, a former member of the United Way Leadership Council, thanked the group for their dedication to United Way, saying that there are so many people who need help, people from all walks of life. “There are a lot of people out there hurting,” Folse stated, “And we don’t realize their situation. You think they are doing fine, but many of them don’t have enough money to feed their children.”
“Everybody thinks St. Tammany is so affluent, but then I see statistics like 46 percent of our kids qualifying for free and reduced lunch and that percentage is increasing,” he said. “Everybody from time to time needs a helping hand, and that is what United Way does.”
“We are committed to do our part as a School System, and I know each one of you can make a successful United Way campaign happen at each of our schools,” he concluded.
Ms. Carter thanked Superintendent Folse for his guidance and leadership with the United Way over the past several years, and she also thanked Assistant Superintendent Brady for his involvement as United Way Coordinator for the School System since the early 1990’s. “He is definitely one of our top people,” she said of Brady. “In fact, he was one of the first people we honored as a Hidden Hero.”
Al Hamauei, Campaign Chairman for the St. Tammany Leadership Council, United Way, told the group they had no idea how important the St. Tammany School System was to a successful fund-raising campaign. “I appreciate all of you,” he said. “You have given more to the United Way than any other group in St. Tammany.” He recalled how United Way helped many south Louisiana families and community service agencies recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Ms. Carter also mentioned the success of the Dolly Parton “Imagination Library,” which provides books for young children to read. “The School System was one of the first groups to step up and contribute to that effort,” she said. “You have always been so generous and had great community connections. There have been so many times when you came together and donated funds to worthwhile community causes, in addition to United Way. “
In June of last year, Assistant Superintendent Brady, and Dr. Jeffery Burgoyne, an Assistant Principal at Slidell High, were especially recognized for their efforts on behalf of the group. Ms. Carter at that time also presented the group’s “Platinum Award” to Superintendent Folse and School Board President Stephen “Jack” Loup, III, for the School System’s donations to the 2010-2011 campaign. Ms. Carter said it is phenomenal what the School Board does in contributing to community service organizations and disaster relief efforts.
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