By Mark Hughes Phoenix Staff Writer Feb 25, 2016
United Way fundraising success was celebrated Wednesday at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame by recognizing achievements of businesses and organizations.United Way Executive Director Lisa Smith announced that the 2015 funding drive raised $606,923, of which $483,597 will stay in Muskogee County. There was a $23,390 increase in local funding from the 2015 drive, $841 more than for 2014, she said "The thing that struck me about this year’s campaign was that we had a $23,390 increase in local United Way funds,” Smith said. “We’re always striving to raise more money — the more we can raise the more lives we can impact.” She attributed this year’s success to “a lot of great companies that worked hard.” Smith also had opportunities to meet with top-level managers “who agreed with our mission and helped contribute to our success.”“No one can afford to go it alone these days,” she said.
“By collaborating with others we’ll be able to do great things in the future.”Melanie Speaks, who lives at the United Methodist Children’s Home in Tahlequah, benefited from United Way.Speaks addressed the crowd and explained that organizations within United Way helped fund her tuition so she could graduate with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Northeastern State University. If things work out, she will also obtain financial assistance to pursue her master’s degree in criminal justice, she said.“Personally, I give to United Way because it’s an organization that recognizes the needs of our community in the Muskogee area and county, and they provide support to programs that improve the quality of life here,” said Sharon Riggs, the Kelly B. Todd director. Riggs said that United Way funding provides 8 percent to 10 percent of her budget.“I give because we should give back to our community regardless, because there’s always someone who can use our help,” said Sissy Carden, assistant director of Women In Safe Home.Carden said that at times it’s hard to come up with the money, and United Way provides about 10 percent of her organization’s budget.©
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