Weirton United Way passes the half-way point

WEIRTON – The Weirton United Way is at 51 percent of its $260,000 goal for the 2013 campaign, officials announced Friday during a campaign report luncheon held at the Serbian-American Cultural Center.

Campaign Chair Don Gianni Jr. reported the campaign has raised $132,037.35 to date, following one month since the beginning of the campaign and several fundraising events held throughout the spring and summer.

United Way Executive Board President John Frankovitch said the success of the organization’s campaign is a result of those involved, many of whom hold significant positions within the community, but who put all that aside when it comes to helping those in need.

“Everybody in this room is a leader in some fashion,” he said. “We all come together as servants for those who need us.”

The guest speaker for the luncheon was Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.

Ford relayed some of the successes of the BDC in the last five years, including the redevelopment of the former Wheeling Corrugating plant in Beech Bottom, the efforts at the former Taylor, Smith and Taylor pottery site in Chester, and the retention of jobs and expansion at RIG Packaging in Wellsburg and Weirton.

Ford explained when he first took the job with the BDC, he immediately was faced with the loss of thousands of jobs in the area with the decline in the steel industry and other economic issues.

While the task can be daunting, he said, he chooses to take a day-to-day approach, looking instead at each project and success story, no matter how big or small they may appear.

“Don’t focus on the destination. Focus on the journey,” Ford said.

It’s an approach he said can be used for the United Way, by not looking at the campaign goal but at the individual results of the efforts during the campaign – helping to pay someone’s electrical bill, buying food and clothing for those in need, or providing after-school programs for local youth.

“If you accomplish something every day, you will succeed,” Ford said.

Frankovitch also thanked Ford for the BDC’s recent contribution to the United Way, which was the result of the sale of office furniture acquired during the purchase of the Wheeling Corrugating plant.

This year’s campaign will benefit 13 area agencies, including the American Red Cross; Boys & Girls Club of Weirton; C.H.A.N.G.E., Inc.; Community Bread Basket; Dunbar Recreation Center; Hancock, Brooke, Ohio Retired & Senior Volunteer Program; Girl Scouts Black Diamond Council; Hancock County Sheltered Workshop; Hancock County 4-H; Mary H. Weir Public Library; Salvation Army, Weirton Corps.; Weirton Christian Center and Weirton Medical Center Foundation.

The next report luncheon is scheduled for Dec. 6.

(Howell can be contacted at, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)