It has become a musical tradition at the annual United Way kickoff breakfast: For the fourth time, guitarist Rodney Johnson performed a song at Thursday’s campaign launch.
Johnson was introduced by Tom Agnitsch, executive director of United Way of Northeastern South Dakota.
“There's always a lot of pressure to do this right because Tom takes me to lunch if I do a good job," Johnson said before he performed.
After Johnson sang, a man in the audience said, “I'll buy you lunch, Rod.”
In addition to music, the breakfast included talk of volunteer efforts, money and community pride.
Julie Stevenson, the chairwoman of the 2012 campaign, announced that this year's United Way goal is $675,000.
That goal, she said, is aggressive but attainable.
United Way is a huge part of the community, said Stevenson, who is public relations and marketing manager for Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center. “We're all pretty much touched every day by a United Way agency.”
A total of 250 volunteers inspire others to take part, Stevenson said. “The businesses in this community are generous beyond words.”
The United Way's Rails Club has raised more than $61,000 toward the 2012 objective. This is the 82nd annual campaign.
Last year's United Way goal was $700,000. The drive fell short, reaching $665,000.
United Way of Northeastern South Dakota assists 45 programs through 19 agencies in a six-county area.
Current board chairman Michael Nguyen, who works at BAE Systems, also spoke at the breakfast, which was at the Boys and Girls Club. Michael Herman, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, introduced two young members of the club, Dillon Swanson and Brittany DeGroot.
Kristi Myhre of Northeastern Mental Health Center read a testimonial from the mother of 14-year-old Tom Mohr. He was diagnosed with autism on his third birthday.
“I discovered very quickly we were in over our heads and we needed help,” Mary Mohr, she wrote.
In a videotape, local United Way recipients were asked to define what “Live United” means to them.
Shari Phillips of the Aberdeen Area Senior Center said that when she hears Live United, she thinks of a community that serves each other and looks out for each other.
Three companies — Target, 3M and Eide Bailly — were applauded for special projects their employees have done.