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First in Canada, record numbers for 2011 UW in Estevan ...again

The impact of the day, the weekend, the mission and the accomplishment hit her when they posted the number that was in excess of $341,000 on Saturday afternoon.
The target was met and surpassed at 2:15 on Saturday afternoon for the 35th annual edition of the Estevan United Way telethon. The final tally that was posted at 5 p.m. was made evident by members of the executive who hoisted the final numbers aloft, indicating that once again the Energy City was first in the country to meet their target and then exceed it by more than $70,000, with a total of over $370,000.

The impact of the day, the weekend, the mission and the accomplishment hit her when they posted the number that was in excess of $341,000 on Saturday afternoon. For it was then that the Estevan and District United Way president Sheila Guenther came to realize that for the 34th time in the last 35 years, Estevan was once again going to lead the country in meeting its targeted goal. This year it was $300,000.35.
It was an ambitious figure, but one that Guenther felt confident the community could reach. It was just a matter of when. The when happened around 2:15.
Sherritt Coal employees and management arrived with a cheque in the amount of $106,000 followed by the contribution from the district's major Crown corporation that nearly matched that amount and the wave of relief and astonishment wafted over her.
"We knew they were fundraising, they always do, but we never know exactly what it will be until they arrive with their cheque," said Guenther, referring to the two large corporate supporters of the UW program.
Those amounts, coupled with the money that had already been contributed by local individuals and businesses, took the UW effort well over the top and it didn't end until the 34-hour televised fundraising marathon was over at 5 p.m. when the committee members held aloft the final figures that put this year's campaign above $370,000.
For Guenther, who has been on the UW's committee for 10 years and the past few years on the executive, it was a welcome conclusion to a very satisfying run up to the traditional October weekend when months of accumulated organizational effort results in an outpouring of community support and money.
The funds will now be distributed among the 18 member agencies who provide community services in a variety of ways. The additional funds, the amount that comes in over the targeted dollar value, will be distributed in a pro-rated manner, as it has in the past.
"This total is way more than our expectations. I just didn't expect this much generosity, especially after this past summer's floods. Our community has been asked to just give and give some more already, so this is just wonderful," Guenther added.
Asked if she was nervous about taking on the presidency of such a massive undertaking, Guenther shook her head negatively. "No, not at all. I wasn't afraid at all, just excited to be a part of this. Bring on the recipient partners; we're always happy to bring in a few newcomers to the program. The volunteers keep coming on, people wanting to help. New faces around the table are always good to have. The way this group works, being president isn't a difficult job at all because everyone knows what they're doing."
The president said she was pleased to see the United Way's profile in the community being advanced even more during the past few years with the Day of Caring projects as well as a number of other projects like the Hillcrest School Breakfast Club that involves UW money as well as a firm commitment from their committee members.
"Any place where we can get even more involved, we should want to be there," Guenther said, before issuing a list of thank yous to the telethon organizers, volunteers who commit time to help from outside the committee, all the entertainers who filled in the marathon hours with fun and talent, as well as those who supplied food and assisted Access Communications with the televising technology and support throughout the non-stop event.
Guenther admitted that yes, she did shed a tear or two as the enormity of the effort and the success of the 2011 program hit her, but then it was back to work to complete the job.
After the committee gathered at the front of the stage to join Estevan's own country and western vocalist Chris Henderson for the final musical number, they joined Pastor Scott Harrison for a prayer of thanks and some closing comments that wrapped up the 2011 version of the United Way Telethon.
"We'll get together soon to allocate the funds, get a final total and then the planning starts almost right away for next year's program. It gets a little more intensive around August of each year when we meet weekly to keep on top of the details, but it's always fun. This is a fun group to be around," Guenther said in conclusion.