Lee United Way short

Annual drive raises $650,000; group seeks new executive.

By Todd Cohen

SANFORD, N.C. [03.07.04] — United Way of Lee County fell short of the goal for its annual drive and is losing its executive director.

The drive, chaired by Joe Clancy, controller at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Sanford, raised $650,000, missing its goal by $150,000.

Deborah Crews, who started volunteering for United Way in 1992 and joined the staff in 1998, stepped down as executive director at the end of March to run Crews Insurance, an agency she has opened in Sanford now being run by her mother-in-law.

The financial industry, including banks, real estate and insurance firms, was the only sector that met or exceeded its goal for the 2003 drive, Crews says.

Manufacturing firms overall raised 85 percent of their goal, while commercial firms raised 70 percent and professional firms, including accountants, attorneys, engineers and architects, raised 67 percent.

The drive also saw a decline in individual gifts of $1,000 or more.

“The last two years we’ve really struggled,” says Crews, who was named executive director nearly four years ago after serving as community affairs and campaign coordinator for two years.

She says United Way has not recovered from the loss in 2002 of Eaton Corp. and Avondale Mills, which together generated more than $60,000 for the annual drive.

“We have not replaced it with any new industry,” she says. “The economy has just played heck with our fundraising.”

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