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United Way drive kicks off with bigger goal

8/25/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Josh Dreher has known for a couple years now this was coming.

Dreher, in his third year serving on the board of United Way of Ellis County, is this year's chairman for the annual fundraising campaign.

"I was asked by our nominating committee a couple years ago," to be chairman, Dreher said. "So I've known I was going to be the campaign chair basically right after I signed up to be on the United Way board."

This year's campaign slogan is "Rising Up to the Challenge." After a goal of raising $475,000 the last couple years, it has been increased this year to $490,000. In addition, two more agencies now will receive funding, up to 16 in all. Last year, 8,000 people were served in Ellis County.

Before becoming chair, Dreher served on the Care Council for United Way.

"I'm glad that I had the opportunity to be on the Care Council for the first two years, because it really allowed me to know a lot more about the United Way, and their agencies," Dreher said. "I would not have taken on the campaign chair job without that experience."

Dreher's duties with the Care Council involved on-site visits with the agencies seeking money, conducting interviews, reviewing financial information and deciding how much each agency will receive.

"After learning about all the agencies, and how they benefit the community, it provided some motivation for me to help them out," Dreher said.

Even though the campaign kickoff was Friday at a Hays Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Fox Pavilion, Dreher has been working on it for months.

"Being the campaign chair, it's pretty much an all-year process," Dreher said.

Dreher, 27, is a 2005 graduate of Hays High School and 2009 graduate of Fort Hays State University. He is a commercial loan officer and vice-president for Bank of Hays. Part of his job as chair of the United Way campaign involves public speaking.

"I've never been a huge fan of public speaking, but I've had to do quite a bit so far," Dreher said.

While that has been a challenge for Dreher, others in Ellis County face challenges of their own. That's where the agencies United Way funds come in.

"There's a lot of people in our community that are facing challenges," Dreher said. "A lot of these challenges, I was not aware of until I became involved with United Way.

"Some of these challenges, we have people who have cancer in our community that can't afford medicine; we have people in our community who need counseling, but can't afford it; we have people who have been affected by a natural disaster, or maybe a house fire.

"People like that need assistance, either monetary or supplies."

They need United Way.