December 8, 2011
While standing in line for food during September’s Sedalia-Pettis County United Way kickoff event, Jack Menges told fundraising campaign chairwoman Chris Stewart that she had made a mistake in the stated goal of $576,170.
“Jack came up to me and whispered, ‘That goal is wrong,’ ” Stewart recalled on Thursday. “ ‘No, it is right, Jack,’ I told him. He said ‘No, it should be $756,000.’ ”
“From your mouth to God’s ears,” Stewart told him in September.
Stewart, along with Elle Wasson Duggan, Sedalia-Pettis County United Way executive director, agreed that Menges’ goal seemed unachievable, but the pair praised his faith on Thursday as the 2011 campaign closed with a total of $765,993 donated by individuals, groups and businesses in support of the 26 United Way agencies that serve Pettis County.
Stewart said she realized Menges’ prediction would come true about three weeks ago after the campaign surpassed its goal with several corporate and manufacturing totals pending.
“I have faith, but I am a worrier,” Stewart said. “I am worried about the economy and folks struggling to make ends meet, but when we exceeded our own target, I started to believe Jack.”
Duggan said she too had her doubts at the outset, but came to believe in Menges’ prediction and felt compelled to help see it become a reality.
“Right from the beginning he said we would get there. We have been scratching the last week to get in all the outstanding contributions, but I felt like if he had the faith we were going to get there, we were going to do all we could to make sure it did,” Duggan said.
Duggan said the group’s financial review committee will meet next week to re-evaluate the agency allocations and will present a new budget at the Dec. 16 board meeting.
“We are excited. It has been a wonderful, wonderful year. The community came forward beyond all our expectations,” she said.
For his part, Menges, who is executive director at Open Door Benevolent Ministries, said that if not for United Way, Open Door — like the other agencies — would have to hire additional staff to do fundraising. It also would have to compete with fellow charitable and social service agencies — meaning fewer dollars being directed to meeting the needs of the community.
“Here is the whole thing — we did this strictly through the generosity of people in this community. People support us because we are taking care of people right here at home,” Menges said.