Staff Members Play Key Role in United Way Campaign Success

Issue Date: 
June 15, 2015

The Pitt community has again shown its dedication to the Pittsburgh region through generous donations to the United Way. The University’s 2014 fundraising campaign generated a total of $656,600, the second-highest amount in Pitt history. That total brings the University’s overall contributions to the United Way to more than $10.7 million since 1997.

This year’s campaign featured one Pitt team winning an impressive piece of hardware. Two pieces, in fact. 

Unionized staff members in the University’s Department of Facilities Management led a blockbuster fundraising campaign for the United Way last fall by hosting a trophy competition that boosted the department’s donations by 49 percent. Their campaign efforts attracted the attention of the United Way of Allegheny County, which honored the group with the Paul Stackhouse Award during a June 2 reception at the Heinz History Center and a June 10 luncheon at the Westin Conference Hotel Downtown. 

The award is given annually to members of labor unions that have taken a strong role in one or more successful workplace campaigns. Named in honor of the late Paul Stackhouse Sr., a local labor leader and United Way board member, the award recognizes unions that mirror Stackhouse’s dedication to the United Way and service to the community. 

“This is a well-deserved recognition,” said G. Reynolds “Renny” Clark, vice chancellor, special assistant to the chancellor, and cochair of the Pitt United Way campaign. “The unions have always conducted a very energetic and creative campaign. The union leaders know that their local and national organizations have a strong and deep commitment to United Way, and our Pitt union committee has worked hard to have a very effective campaign.”

During the 2014 United Way campaign, union members from the building trades, service employees, operating engineers, and other labor organizations at Pitt competed to win a trophy designed by Tom Thieret and built by him and his fellow sheet metal workers in Facilities Management. The trophy was dubbed the Facilities Management “Pitt” Spire Award with “Pitt” representing not only the University but a new motto: Participation Increased Through Team play. It was awarded to the building trades union, which had the highest percentage of participation in the campaign.

In total, the Pitt unions added 14 donors and contributed a total of $14,335—a 49 percent increase since last year. The largest gift last year was from a custodian, according to William Mitchell, senior manager of custodial services.

“These folks take their hard-earned money and are willing to pay it forward. That’s an outstanding compliment to our division,” said Mitchell. “They always seem to find a way to come through for others” in need. 

The unions’ accomplishment is a reflection of the success of the University-wide campaign. Of the $656,600 raised by the Pitt community, $345,555 of the contributions were directed toward the United Way’s Impact Fund, which supports those populations with great need, including young children and frail elderly adults. 

The 2014 campaign was cochaired by Clark and David Eibling, a professor and vice chair for education, Department of Otolaryngology, and assistant chief of surgery, VA Pittsburgh. The campaign was the 14th and last under the direction of Clark, who will retire this summer. (See story on page 3.) Anne Franks, Pitt’s United Way campaign manager and executive director of administration in Pitt’s Office of Institutional Advancement, has worked with Clark during the last 11 campaigns.

“Without exception, each year he inspired the Pitt community and me to do our very best to support and strengthen the lives of the people in our region who need our help. He shared his passion for United Way with everyone and was always available to guide and support the efforts of the campaign coordinators across the campus,” said Franks. “It has been a great gift to have his leadership, and so, on behalf of the many volunteers who have worked on the Pitt United Way Campaign, I extend a heartfelt thanks to Renny.”