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What’s cooking? Another United Way success

By Ken Stickney

ken.stickney@panews.com

Valero Refinery will achieve its second consecutive $1 million United Way campaign this year, topping a record-setting effort last year that accounted for two-thirds of the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County’s collections.

“As a refinery, we are stepping up to the plate supporting United Way and this community,” said Billy W. Jones, a Valero campaign co-chair.

“Employees are excited. Going back to Harvey last year, everyone was dealing with issues,” Jones said. “Even with that and all that is going on this year, we’ve exceeded goal again.”

Valero employees were celebrating campaign success Friday at an employee cook-off, where 16 teams were vying for honors with chili, gumbo and booth themes. Judges were Tiffany Murphy, KFDM anchor; Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick; and United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County CEO Janie Johnson.

“It’s a way to celebrate our employees and their generosity,” said Barbara Phillips, Valero spokeswoman. “These are our employees who do this, recognizing the needs of the community and giving from their hearts.”

The 2017-18 Valero campaign for United Way reached $1,015,000, representing employee donations and a company match. United Way itself collected $1.5 million in an informal campaign, as Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey flooding left more than 3 feet of water in the UW office, sweeping away campaign materials and leaving the organization to launch only an “informal” campaign last year.

The 2018-19 Valero campaign, which will surpass last year’s effort, concludes next week. Johnson said in launching this year’s United Way campaign that the organization would not set a specific goal in seeking to serve its 22 member agencies.

“They always do a wonderful job for the community during their campaign,” Johnson said of Valero. “Their employees have a lot of heart. It’s amazing to see another campaign at that level again. But it goes back to employees and the company understanding the needs of our community.”

“It means a lot,” Branick, who sits on some agency boards, said of the Valero campaign. “It means more resources for social service agencies and non-profits in our communities. It makes our community a better place.”