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Dave Olson, Published September 17 2013

United Way unveils $5.2 million campaign goal

FARGO – More than 670 people gathered at the Holiday Inn here Tuesday to participate in the United Way of Cass-Clay’s largest campaign kick-off ever.

Emphasizing the themes “Live United” and “Be the One,” the campaign aims to collect $5.2 million to support the United Way’s partner agencies.

Last year’s United Way campaign raised $5,121,724.

Tuesday’s luncheon presentation focused on poverty as a major barrier to individual success. Stories were shared about how people and families have beaten the odds thanks to help from agencies and programs supported by the United Way.

Jeff Schatz, superintendent of Fargo schools, told of a young man who was the first in many generations of his family to graduate from high school, though he said the accomplishment did not come without difficulties and setbacks.

Today, the man is in his mid-20s, has a wife and kids and is gainfully employed, Schatz said.

“We never quit on anybody,” Schatz said, adding that the story offers a glimpse of what is possible with support from United Way-backed programs.

Still, the challenges facing area communities can be daunting, said Sherri Thomsen, United Way president. An estimated 28,000 individuals in Cass and Clay counties live in poverty, including 6,000 children, Thomsen said.

“Do you guys want to be part of the solution?” Kristi Huber, resource development director for the United Way, asked those attending Tuesday’s kick-off.

“It is going to take all of us facing these challenges head-on,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555