United Way Beats Fundraising Goal, Celebration Planned for June 1st

This news story by Jared Stonesifer originally appeared in the Beaver County Times.  

The United Way of Beaver County has beat its fundraising goal for the third consecutive year.  The exact amount raised will be released June 1 at a recognition dinner at the Club at Shadow Lakes in Hopewell Township. The fundraising campaign ends the day before, on May 31.

Mike Rubino, the executive director of the local United Way, said Friday this year’s goal was set at $750,000. Thanks to significant contributions from local businesses and employees, the agency beat that number.

Rubino urged the public to attend the June 1 dinner. The $30 ticket for the event, which he stressed in not a fundraiser, is a “break even” cost. “We’re not asking anyone for any money,” he said. “This is just a celebration.”  Rubino said he’s hoping for more than 300 attendees this year, which would beat the 275 people who attended last year.

 The dinner starts at 6 p.m. and will include recognition of local businesses and individuals who have been instrumental to the United Way’s fundraising campaigns over the years. All of the money raised during those campaigns is disbursed to 17 local partner organizations as well as other charities. The money will be given to help all sorts of at-risk populations in Beaver County.
Anyone who wants to attend the dinner must reserve a seat first, as no tickets will be sold at the door. Anyone wishing to reserve a ticket may call 724-774-3210.

 

United Way Director Fearful of Potential Life Without FirstEnergy Plants

This news story by Jared Stonesifer originally appeared in the Beaver County Times.

The executive director of the United Way of Beaver County doesn’t normally follow the goings-on of the coal and nuclear power industries, but he now has no other choice as the future of two FirstEnergy Corp. power plants remains uncertain.

Mike Rubino on Friday made it clear just how important FirstEnergy — and the 1,100 employees combined between the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant and the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station — is to the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign. That campaign, which had a goal set at $750,000 this year, disburses much-needed funds to agencies across the county. Those agencies serve all sorts of at-risk clients across Beaver County.

Rubino has been reading the news lately, and he understands that both of the Shippingport power plants are on unsteady footing. FirstEnergy has repeatedly maintained it wants to sell or deactivate its local plants as part of a company-wide strategy to exit the power-generation business in unregulated markets.

FirstEnergy, both as a corporation and from its employees, makes up more than 15 percent of the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign, Rubino said. Between a substantial corporate gift and donations from employees, the amount totals more than $100,000. “FirstEnergy, going back for decades in Beaver County, has been a huge supporter of the United Way,” Rubino said. “Each year they run a fantastic campaign. They even create a video produced by their CEO that underscores the importance of the United Way, and they show it to every one of their employees.”

Rubino has become nervous about the company’s murky future in Beaver County, so much so that he’s taken steps to prepare for a life without FirstEnergy. “Not just me, but our entire board is cautiously working on contingency plans and letting our partner agencies know that if something happens with FirstEnergy, we might be looking at cuts to allocation, which affects everyone in Beaver County,” he said. “As long as FirstEnergy is here, we are going to be fine. The concern is, are they going to be here?”

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said Friday that the company over the last five years, both as a corporation and from individual employees, has given about $653,000 to the local United Way. The 800 employees at the nuclear plant have donated more than $335,000 during that time, while the 300 Bruce Mansfield employees have given $105,000. As a corporation, FirstEnergy has given $213,000.

 “Community involvement and charitable giving are priorities for FirstEnergy,” Young said. “We believe in fostering strong, vibrant communities and are committed to being a good corporate neighbor.” While the company’s future in Beaver County seems uncertain, FirstEnergy officials have been encouraged as of late because of legislative developments in Ohio, where the company is based.

FirstEnergy is seeking to bolster its nuclear portfolio through subsidies paid by rate payers, something that can’t happen unless first approved by the Ohio Legislature. If those subsidies are enacted, the Beaver Valley plant could also receive a financial boost, which could prevent it from closing or being sold.  The Ohio Legislature is expected to vote sometime this summer on the subsidy package.