The United Way of Olmsted County celebrated some big news on Tuesday.
The crowd attending the annual Celebration of Caring and Giving roared at news that the United Way of Olmsted Country raised $4.1 million during its 2014 campaign.
"I was exciting because it was a stretch goal ($4 million) this year," 2014 campaign chairman Don Supalla told those gathered at Canadian Honker Events Center at Kahler Apache Hotel in Rochester. "About two weeks ago, I was wondering if we were going to make it or not. Getting over the $4 million mark is a new threshold for us."
Jerome Ferson, President of United Way of Olmsted County, said the money will be used to help local residents in four areas: education, income, health and basic needs.
"All of the resources that we collect are redistributed across the community to programs that are making a difference in all of those areas," Ferson said.
Along with announcing the final total, several people and organizations were recognized. Betsy Hassett was named "Emerging Leader of the Year."
Hassett, a legal representative at Mayo Clinic, volunteered 57 hours through the Emerging Leaders in Giving program. Hassett's time spent giving back has connected her to the community while allowing her to network with peers, who also gave back.
Carmen Kane was given the Maude Finch Award. Kane, a longtime United Way supporter, has worked with the Power of the Purse and Imagination Library programs as well as Community Food Response and the United Way Basic Needs Community Investment Team.
Organizations honored included Southeast Service Co-op (Live United Campaign), West Bank (Rising Star), Dunlap & Seeger PA (Best Kickoff), Olmsted County (Best Campaign Photo) and Byron School District (Best in Thanks). Supalla said those volunteers and businesses were the reason United Way of Olmsted County had a record-breaking year.
"It's these folks out in the trenches," he said. "It's the employees who are coordinating their campaigns in all of these organizations who are making it happen. There were some real creative campaigns, some fun campaigns."
"We had a lot of campaign coordinators or organizations who showed great gains in both participation and giving," Supalla said. "It's so much fun to honor those people who made a huge contribution."