My 631,487 reasons to be proud


By Alex Kulczycki
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Here we are at the end of another successful Western United Way Campaign.
It’s a bittersweet feeling because, as I contemplate how to start to thank everyone involved, I find myself a touch sad it’s all over. It was a tough and trying year, but in the end, the Western community came through yet again.
$631,487. Wow. No. 1 in the city.
This has been my second straight campaign as a sponsored employee and in both years our goal was exceeded by a large amount (this year by more than $40,000).
This was done by the hard work, dedication and passion of Western’s volunteers. I can’t tell you how much I, United Way, funded agencies and 20,000 clients who use the services in London appreciate those volunteers.
Without volunteers this campaign couldn’t get off the ground.
The co-ordinators and canvassers did the work of distributing/collecting pledges, organizing fundraising activities and helping with the follow-ups. Western lost one of its longtime volunteers in Peggy Bugler. Her dedication to Western and to helping the United Way will be greatly missed.
Some of you came on board because you’re a close friend or an acquaintance, while some of you I talked into volunteering and we became a close friend as a result. Thank you.
My thanks and gratitude goes to Roy, Sue and Mitch in the Physical Plant Department for allowing me to go back for a second term as a sponsored employee – especially with a few days notice, yet again.
Thanks to Western’s campaign co-chairs, Malcolm and Joan, and the rest of Western’s United Way committee – Paul, Scott, Joan and retiree co-chairs Sally and Pat. Your dedication to the cause is truly inspiring. I want to thank the Department of Communications and Public Affairs for helping to get the information out to the community via Western News and the university’s website.
And because of them I made a new friend – Marty the Zebra.
What can I say about the United Way staff. What a wonderful group to work with.  Enthusiastic, vibrant and damn young. Sometimes I felt like I should have started this a few decades earlier.
Andrew, Barb, Gabby and everyone else at United Way, a big heartfelt thanks for treating me like I was one of your own for four months. They let me go gung-ho at Western and since I’ve been bouncing around here for 30-something years, I know the place like the back of my hand – especially the pubs.
United Way of London & Middlesex’s chair this year is our own Ivey Dean, Carol Stephenson. And it’s true what they say about giving the job to a busy person; you can’t get any busier than her and yet she came through when needed.
A big thank you to the agencies I have had the pleasure to be involved with these past two years. They helped me see a side of London I didn’t even know existed.
A very heartfelt thank you has to go to all the other sponsored employees from around the city who I have been honoured to work with. We became a very tight-knit group over these four month gigs – so close, in fact, I had some little brothers, a few sisters, someone who thought of me as a dad, and I even had a couple of wives there.
I was one of the older sponsored employees and I always felt that this was a younger person’s job – as the average age is about 35. But when I was working with them, I felt 20 years younger.
I truly wish I could do this every year but I know it’s not possible. But let me say that everyone should have the chance to do this at least once in their life. You will be forever changed.
Lastly, a thanks to all the donors. Regardless of the size of your donation it has made (and will continue to make) an even stronger and more vibrant London. And a strong and vibrant London equals a strong and vibrant Western.
Without all the folks I just mentioned, there would be no way. But because of them, Western has a reason to be proud: 631,487 reasons to be exact.
Thanks again.

Alex Kulczycki
United Way sponsored employee, 2010


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