The United Way of Orange County held its Annual Banquet this past Thursday, March 3, inside the Gillespie Building of First Presbyterian Church in Orange. Along with its annual report, the organization installed its Board of Directors for the year. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

The United Way held its yearly banquet this past Thursday to set the stage for the rest of the year.

The United Way of Orange County held its Annual Banquet on Thursday, March 3 inside the Gillespie Building of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Orange as dozens of guests and representatives of the various agencies supported by the United Way were in attendance.

Elizabeth Nash, the outgoing president of the organization’s officers, stated how successful 2015 was and that the momentum will continue in 2016.

“Everyone has worked very hard and been very dedicated,” Nash said to the audience. “The Board of Directors are very dedicated in what they do and are hard working volunteers.”

She also offered a recap on the United Way of Orange County’s 2015 campaign fundraising goal for 2016. The goal is $875,000, which is an increase from the previous year’s goal of $850,000.

“We are at 92 percent of our goal for the year,” Nash added. “We’re not at 100 percent yet, but it’s not for lack of trying.”

Pledges continue to come in on a steady basis as the United Way has reportedly received $798,878 this campaign year, which has been led by campaign chairperson David Jones.

Also, as part of the annual banquet, the United Way of Orange County installed its new officers and its new Board of Directors.

The officers for 2016 through February 2017 are Leslie Uzzle, President; Brian Beach, 1st Vice-President; Mike Cedars, 2nd Vice-President; and Shane Johns, Treasurer.

The Board of Directors consists of Michael Bearden, Andrew Culpepper, Demetrius Moffitt, Manuel Ramon, Chris Riedel, Stacy Brister, Stephen Lee, Bill Powers, Royd Richardson, Gina Simar, Mike Cedars, Dayna Smith, Leslie Uzzle, Betty Morgan, Nancy Vincent and Shane Johns.

Through the generous contributions of individuals and business, the United Way of Orange County was able to assist its 22 agencies in 2015. Those agencies include Anayat House, Boy Scouts of America – Three Rivers Council, Boys Haven, Camp Fire USA, Family Services/Women and Children Shelter, Friends Helping Friends and Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council.

Other agencies include Greater Orange Area Literacy Service (GOALS), Habitat for Humanity, Orange County Action Association (Meals on Wheels), OCARC, Inc., Rape and Suicide Crisis of Southeast Texas and Right Choice.

Also assisted in 2015 were the Salvation Army, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, Samaritan Counseling, Shorkey Center, Southeast Texas Hospice, Spindletop Tejas Centre, Unity House, Vidor Children’s Fun and the YMCA.