Charitable Campaign Goal:
By Richard Veilleux
The 2002 Connecticut State Employees Charitable Campaign has begun - with a twist.
Storrs campus, and Joyce Borkowski, chair of the campaign at the UConn Health Center, the campaigns will focus not on a dollar amount but, instead, on participation.
"When I began researching past campaigns I was shocked when I saw that fewer than 500 people in Storrs had contributed last year," Veilleux said. "I know everybody spends what they earn - I certainly do. But, that said, I can't imagine that we all can't afford at least $1 each pay period. That isn't an amount people would even notice."
Consequently, Veilleux and the campaign steering committee decided the goal should be to double the number of participants in Storrs to 1,000. In Farmington, Borkowski and her steering committee set their goal at 500 - also about double last year's numbers.
"That's still only about 25 percent of the employees on the Storrs campus and only 10 percent at the Health Center and if everybody really thinks about how important many of the more than 950 charities in the campaign are, or will be, to their families, friends and neighbors, I think we should reach that goal," Veilleux said.
Last year, state employees contributed more than $1.6 million to the charitable organizations, including more than $170,000 from UConn employees in Storrs, at the regional campuses, the law school, and the Health Center.
The State Employees Charitable Campaign began in 1992. There are nine federations to which UConn employees may contribute, including the Connecticut United Ways, the forerunner to the state employees campaign. The others are America's Charities, Community Health Charities of Connecticut, Community Works, Earth Share of New England, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Independent Charities of America, International Service Agencies, and Share America. Together, the nine agencies represent nearly 1,000 charities, including the Windham Area Habitat for Humanity, which has a chapter at UConn, and dozens of other charities that serve areas near UConn facilities.
"The choices are really endless," Veilleux says. "The environment, wildlife, the arts, education, human services, protecting children, feeding the hungry. If anything, there are too many choices. That's one reason it's nice that you can split your contribution among two, four, or more organizations."
"This really is a splendid opportunity for all of us at UConn to give something back to the community we serve," says University President Philip Austin, who has participated in the program since coming to UConn in 1996. "We are fortunate to be at an outstanding University, contributing to the state's quality of life through our teaching, research and service. This program represents one more important means through which we can help thousands of individuals in the state of Connecticut. I would urge all of my colleagues to support this cause."
At the Health Center, Dr. Peter J. Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, kicked off the campaign in August in Keller Auditorium with a session for campaign coordinators.
The Storrs-based campaign began last week with a pledge signing ceremony. Austin, Chancellor John Peter-sen, Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor for student affairs, Ross MacKinnon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Kevin Fahey, president of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), Quentin Kessel, president of the UConn chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and Linda Armstrong, UConn steward for the Association of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) signed their pledge cards during a brief ceremony in Gulley Hall.
Both campaigns will run through the month of October.
Unions at the Health Center will also be invited to get involved in the campaign. Jeanne Morningstar, president of University Health Professionals (UHP), said the union stands ready to assist any way it can.
"It's important for the unions to get behind this effort," says Fahey, UCPEA's president. "People are always quick to criticize state employees, and too often overlook the excellent work we do at our jobs and in our communities."
In addition to the joy of giving, Storrs contributors will be eligible to win one of 50 prizes during a drawing at the end of the campaign. Prizes include a core campus parking sticker, a basketball autographed by the 2002 NCAA champion women's basketball team, membership in the Fitness For Life program, basketball tickets, gift certificates for area restaurants and UConn dining halls, and golf outings.
Health Center employees also will have the opportunity to win parking spots, and will be invited to participate in a variety of special events, including a dress down day, a lasagna lunch and a bake sale.