Russ, president of the Norwalk Area United Fund board of directors, spoke Thursday morning at the group’s 2019 campaign kickoff breakfast at the Norwalk Eagles Club.
Russ was president 10 years ago and he said while many things have changed, many have stayed the same.
“I looked back at the list of directors that year and there were 27 names,” he said. “Eleven of them are still on the board. Somehow, we keep finding great board members.”
Russ said the United Fund had a goal of $330,000 10 years ago, but came up a little short at $312,000.
“It was pretty tough in 2008 and 2009,” he said. “Our goal this year is $390,000 and as of this morning we already have collected $40,000 toward that goal.”
The United Fund has hit its goal each of the last five years, Executive Director Linda Bersche said.
Russ said a key step forward for the United Fund was the start of the Pillars Society, headed up Tom and Janiece Schubert and Dave and Robin Bleile.
“Overall it feels like a lot has changed,” Russ said. “One thing that hasn’t changed is the dedication of the United Fund.”
First Vice-President Pat Krause said she is impressed with everything she has seen in her four years on the board.
“This board is dedicated and committed to changing lives,” Krause said. “It has been a great experience being on this board.”
Three awards were handed out Thursday.
• The Community Commitment Award was given to the Norwalk Area Food Bank, headed by Cindy Liben.
• The John Elmlinger Extra Mile Award was given to Norwalk High School senior Anna Little, who spearheaded the Laps for Literacy project. The group logged almost 14 miles in the Ernsthausen Aquatic Center pool and raided $1,900 for the fund’s literacy program, headed by Anna’s mom, Amy Little.
“A huge thanks to everyone who came out to help and to swim,” Amy Little said at the time. “A special thanks to the Norwalk Lions Club for sponsoring the rental of the pool. Look for us next year to top the $1,900 we made this year. And while you’re at it, check out our blue bookshelves around town with the sign that says, “1, 2, 3 Read to Me.” These books are donated by residents who are cleaning out their bookshelves and are free for the taking. Reading really is fundamental and a child who reads will become an adult who thinks.”
• The Jerry and Pat Hipp family were honored with The Cornerstone Award.