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Beards are United Way co-chairs

The United Way of Bemidji Area Board of Directors has announced that Mike Beard, JC Penney store manager, and Pam Beard, community representative, are its 2009 Campaign co-chairs. This is a volunteer position that helps coordinate, energize and lead the fall campaign. Mike and Pam will be responsible for managing a network of approximately 400 volunteers who will be cultivating resources and community support September through October.

The United Way of Bemidji Area's overall campaign theme this year is "Live United" with a fun theme of '70's TV shows. The campaign goal is $417,000.

Setting the pace for the 2009 campaign, 10 businesses kicked off their internal employee campaign with the United Way's Pacesetter luncheon at Bemidji Town and Country Club July 22. This year's Pacesetters are Beltrami Electric, First National Bank Bemidji, JCPenney, North Country Business Products, North Country Health Services, Potlatch, RiverWood Bank, Target, UPS and Wells Fargo. Last year, the Pacesetters raised $139,727 which was 33.5 percent of the overall goal. This year, they are challenged to raise $145,950, 35 percent of the goal.

The official community startup for the 2009 United Way of Bemidji Area fundraising campaign will be at the 18th annual chili cook-off, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Paul Bunyan Mall. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door.

Recent fundraisers which have supported United Way's campaign included the Beltrami Electric/Touchstone Energy Golf Open at Castle Highlands and the wine and beer tasting gala at Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge. On Wednesday, Sept. 9, Netzer Floral will donate a portion of their proceeds from the first community-wide "Good Neighbor Day" to United Way. Hampton Inn & Suites is raffling a Viking leather recliner and will donate proceeds from the raffle to United Way. Additional 2009 campaign fundraisers will include the sixth annual Restaurant Day for United Way on Thursday, Oct. 1, when restaurants donate a portion of their income for the day; Movie Days for the United Way dates to be announced; and the Victory Dinner Tuesday, Dec. 8.

The Beards will coordinate campaign activities through a volunteer campaign cabinet. Working with them are Chris and Melissa Vacek, campaign vice co-chairs; Scott Turn, Major Gifts Division; Troy Haluptzok and Scott Kurtzweg, Commercial Division; JoAnne Daniels and Sandy White, Business Division; Jim Aylesworth, Professional Division; Sheila Miller, Public Service Division; John Motto, Special Gifts Division; Susan Flicek and Kim Kusler, Bemidji Area Schools; Jean Baer and Johnny Lee Walker, Communications Division; Missy Thomas and Rebecca Hoffman, Agencies Division; Kari Knudson, and Robin Myers, Health Care Division and Judy Comstock and Penny Echternach, Pillar Division.

Funds raised during the campaign will help support 34 local non-profit agencies/programs in the Bemidji area that provide a variety of services and initiatives to address the root-causes of the most serious human needs in our community and create real, lasting change in people's lives, in the areas of: education - helping children, youth and adults achieve their full potential; income-promoting financial stability, increasing self-sufficiency and independence; and health-improving people's health and social well-being and providing emergency services.

To ensure accountability and that dollars are invested where needed most, the United Way of Bemidji Area holds an annual allocation process. The process is conducted by a sixteen member rotating volunteer group from a cross-section of the community. The process is open each year for any local nonprofit to apply. Committee volunteers review applicant agency applications and budgets as well as visit with those requesting funding. To complete the process, the United Way of Bemidji Area Board of Directors reviews and approves the recommendations of the committee.

For more information or to be a part of the 2009 United Way community campaign, visit the United Way Web site at, contact the United Way office at P.O. Box 27, Bemidji, MN 56619, or 444-UWAY (8929).