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2011 Fall Campaign: United Way names chairpersons

Johnny Lee Walker and Jean Baer are the 2011 United Way of Bemidji Area chairs. Submitted Photo

The United Way of Bemidji Area Board of Directors has announced Johnny Lee Walker, Certified Radio Marketing consultant, RP Broadcasting, and Jean Baer, community representative, as its 2011 Campaign co-chairs.

The campaign co-chairs volunteer their time to coordinate, energize and lead the fall campaign. Walker and Baer will be responsible for managing a network of approximately 250 volunteers who will be cultivating resources and community support September-October.

The 2011 campaign marks United Way of Bemidji Area's 25th anniversary of improving lives in the Bemidji community. The campaign theme is "I love 1986," in celebration of the year United Way was officially formed as an organization in the Bemidji community, thanks to the leadership of Sue Liapis and start-up funding from the George W. Neilson Foundation.

The goal for the 2011 campaign is to raise $420,000.

Walker and Baer will coordinate campaign activities through a volunteer campaign cabinet. Working with them is Campaign Vice-chair Kristi Booth, Regional Network Director, Minnesota Public Radio; Scott Kurtzweg, Commercial Division; JoAnne Daniels, Business Division; Sheila Miller, Special Gifts Division; Kim Kusler, Bemidji Area Schools; and, Kari Knudson and Robin Myers, Health Care Division.

Setting the pace for the 25th campaign, nine businesses kicked off their workplace campaign with the United Way's pacesetter luncheon at Bemidji Town and Country Club on Tuesday, July 19. This year's pacesetters include: Beltrami Electric, First National Bank Bemidji, JCPenney, North Country Business Products, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, Potlatch, RiverWood Bank, Target, and UPS. The kick off titled "Happy 25th Birthday United Way" allowed the pacesetters to learn more about the United Way, the campaign, and share ideas for engaging others to help change community conditions and make a better life for us all. Last year, the Pacesetters raised $124,419 which was 31 percent of the overall goal. This year, they are challenged to raise $130,000, 31 percent of the 2011 campaign goal.

The official community kick-off for the 25th annual campaign will be at the "1986 Entertainment" chili cook-off, sponsored by Paul Bunyan Communications and Hills Plumbing and Heating, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Paul Bunyan Mall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door.

The following day, Thursday, Sept. 22, is United Way's annual Business Radio Blitz, sponsored by Paul Bunyan Broadcasting radio station's KB101, 95.5 and Z99. Businesses that contribute to United Way, on or before the blitz, will be recognized on-air from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

United Way will also host several new fundraising efforts and events during the 25th campaign to celebrate the momentous milestone, including the Pennies for People Challenge, the Live United Flat Stanley Scavenger Hunt and LIVE UNITED day.

Members of the community are encouraged to show their support of United Way's efforts by giving their pennies to the Pennies for People Challenge, a 51 day challenge to collect one million pennies. Pennies can be donated at various locations throughout the community. For a complete list of penny drop off sites visit the United Way's website

The Live United Flat Stanley Scavenger Hunt will be held from Sept. 19-Oct.19. It is designed as a fun, family-friendly scavenger hunt to learn more about United Way, supporting businesses and partner agencies. The event is being chaired by Jackie Imdieke, North Country Business Products. The mission of the scavenger hunt is to complete 6 activities, out of 12 possible activities, that lead participants to a Live United Flat Stanley. Some of the activities involve figuring out clues to supporting businesses, touring partner agencies, exploring United Way's website and becoming United Way's friend on Facebook. Once the participant locates the Live United Flat Stanley, they get their passport stamped for that particular activity. The passport is complete when the participant has sixstamps.

The scavenger hunt is free to play. Individual/team registration and the game waiver will be available on United Way's website beginning September 19. Once the individual or team completes the waiver, they will receive the LIVE UNITED Flat Stanley Scavenger Hunt passport and can begin playing. Completed passports need to be turned in to United Way by Oct. 19. All completed passports will be entered into a drawing for fabulous prizes. The drawing will be held on Live United day, Friday, Oct. 21. Participants do not need to be present to win a prize.

Live United day will be held on Friday, Oct. 21. Oct. 21, 1986 was the day the United Way of Bemidji Area's founding board of directors, Sue Liapis, Ruth Edevold, Lee Swanbson, Al Zdrazil, Bob Crep, Ruth Hulbret, Les Duly, De Pickett, Tim Campbell, Phil Bain, Lee Herb Reideman, Bob Holmgren, Mark Dickinson, Arden Phelps, and Lucille Moe approved the by-laws, filed the forms for the corporation to receive 501(c)3 status, and approved hiring of the first executive director, Arden Phelps.

United Way is asking members of the community to wear a Live United T-shirt to show their support of United Way on Oct. 21. Tee shirts can be purchased from United Way for $7.50-$9.50. In addition, the Pennies for People Challenge total will be announced, the scavenger hunt prizes will be drawn and Restaurant Day for United Way will be held on Live United day. The community can dine out all day at participating restaurants in support of Restaurant Day for United Way. The list of participating restaurants will be available on the United Way website by Oct. 1.

Movie Days for United Way, sponsored by RP Broadcasting and Paul Bunyan Communications, will be held Saturday, Oct. 21, and Sunday, Oct. 22, at the Bemidji Theatre. In keeping with the '80s theme, the original "Back to the Future" movie will be shown at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $5 each.

To ensure accountability and that dollars are invested where needed most, the United Way of Bemidji Area holds an annual community investment process. The process is conducted by the community investment cabinet, a sixteen member rotating volunteer group from a cross-section of the community. Local 501(c)3 nonprofits that are providing programs in the areas education, income or health are invited to apply. The cabinet members visit with applicant agencies and review budgets to determine degree of community need, impact on that need, and the ability of the agency to provide the program and report its results. To complete the process, the United Way of Bemidji Area Board of Directors reviews and approves the recommendations of the cabinet.

For more information or to make a contribution in support of United Way, visit the United Way website at, contact the United Way office at PO Box 27, Bemidji, MN 56619, or 444-UWAY (8929).