Nancy Swindell will be the subject of the Greater Ennis United Way's annual roast fundraiser, that gives community leaders a hard time for a great time and a good cause.

It’s time for Swindell to take her place in the pantheon of roastees, said Julie Pierce, United Way treasurer.

“Nancy does a lot for the Downtown Merchants – she’s very active in that group, and they're the heart of our city,” Pierce said.

“She has got a huge heart, she does a lot for this community and we need to roast her. And she’s got such a great personality, roasting her will be easy … like the tickets say, ‘finally, Ennis will have its revenge.’”

This will be the 6th annual event. Previous honorees have included Mayor Russell Thomas, Ennis Lions Coach Sam Harrell, Realtor Raymond Caldwell, banker and longtime United Way supporter Bramlett Beard and community organizer Jane Mize.

The annual fundraiser enables every penny raised during the campaign to go directly to GEUW agencies and their work in the Ennis community.

Tickets are $75 a piece, $500/$1,000 per table. Sponsorships available.

For tickets and information, call the Greater Ennis United Way 972-351-2060.

United Way donations down

When the going gets tough, the giving gets a bit lean.

The one umbrella organization that raises and distributes funds to a group of Ennis non-profit organizations felt the pinch as it wrapped up its 2008-2009 campaign this year.

Giving to the Greater Ennis United Way was down from its projected goal of $315,000 by $55,000, said GEUW director Elizabeth Fulton, who noted that two distinct pictures appeared to emerge during the campaign – one of a thriving business community, and one of an economy with its brakes on.

“Some of the businesses were scared, and others were doing better than ever, hiring more people. We did a great campaign and we were crazy busy,” she said.

GEUW treasurer and executive board member Julie Pierce said while many Ennis area residents dug deep, in some cases generosity encountered fiscal obstacles this year.

“They didn’t want to say no, but they didn’t have anything else to give,” Pierce said. 

Bad news doesn't help when it’s time to get people to part with spare change for a good cause, she said.

“I think people are just scared to spend. Negativity sells. I’d like to see what would happen if we had 30 days of no bad news,” she said.

This year’s United Way campaign is wrapped up, for the most part. The companies have had their presentations, the pledging has been done.

 If the national United Way organization had a Frugal Award, the Greater Ennis United Way might win it. Everything from staples and copies to pledge cards, brochures, videos and even office space is donated so that every penny donated goes to humanity services in the Ennis area.

“Here in Ennis, we don’t have any reserves. What we raise, we do give away. That’s why a lot of people are anxious to help us – everything goes to the community for humanity services. It's definitely not sitting in a bank,” Fulton said.

Make no mistake – those who give to the GEUW are particularly appreciated, and each donation counts - perhaps even more so in a lean year, said Fulton.

“And that’s a huge group of people,” she said.

That kind of care earned her kudos Monday. “Elizabeth does everything and she’s absolutely wonderful,” said Pierce after the board meeting drew to a close.

Applications are due Friday; it’s a closed application process limited to groups that have received funding this past year. The board voted not to open the application window to new groups.

“That’s mostly because of the economy – if we voted to allow a new agency, that would take away something from another agency,” said Fulton, who noted that the board hasn’t been approached by any other agencies.

“We want to make sure we make a difference – that we make an impact,” said Pierce.

The allocations committee will consider the applications and make applications after the campaign is completely wrapped and audited. Norma Epstein is the allocations chair, and hearings will take place March 4 and 5.

The executive board of the Greater Ennis United Way includes Adam Fuentes, campaign chair/vice president and next year’s president; current president Frank Bartolic, and treasurer Julie Pierce.

United Way

agencies

Greater Ennis United Way organizations from the 2008-2009 year include:

ACROSS: Works to provide interim housing to residents of Ennis in emergency situations, provide life skills and training to help individuals move toward independence and dignity. 972-872-9828

American Red Cross/Ellis County:  Provides relief to victims of disasters, and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. 903-874-4551.

Boys & Girls Club of Ennis:  Offers youth encouragement, knowledge and motivation needed to answer life’s questions and fulfill their dreams. Helps youth of all backgrounds develop strong character and become responsible citizens and future leaders. 972-878-1543

Candy Cane Corner Child Care Center:  Provides quality services in child safety and development to children and their families, regardless of economic background. 972-878-3200.

CASA of Ellis County:  Recruits and trains volunteers to represent and protect the best interests of abused and neglected children placed in foster care. Advocate through the court system either for family reunification or placement in a safe, nurturing and permanent environment. 972-937-1455.

Ellis County Foster Parents Association:  Works as a support group for foster parents providing a loving, secure environment in which children can develop to their fullest potential in becoming contributing members of society. 972-937-0892.

Ellis County 4-H Club:  Community of young people learning leadership, citizenship and lifeskills. Creed: Learning By Doing. Motto: To Make the Best Better.  972-825-5175

Ennis Golden Circle Senior Citizens Activity Center:  Serve the special needs of the residents of Ennis who are 60 years and up by providing services to meet the necessities of life, including transportation, meals, recreation and assistance. 972-875-6101.

Friends of the Ennis Public Library:  972-875-5360.

The Gingerbread House (Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center):  Provides a child-friendly environment for the child-victims and their non-offending family members and coordinates intervention process, reducing further trauma to the child. Optimizes the investigation and prosecution processes on behalf of abused children and heightens community awareness of related issues. 972-937-1870.

Helping Hands of Ennis:  Helps feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty and welcome the strangers as commanded by Jesus Christ in Matthew 25:34-36. 972-875-0218.

Meals on Wheels of Johnson and Ellis Counties:  Helping needy homebound elderly and disabled persons remain independent and healthy in their homes by providing home-delivered meals, daily personal contact and support for individuals and their families. 972-351-9943.

For information, call the Greater Ennis United Way 972-351-2060. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 639, Ennis, Texas 75120.

E-mail J.Louise at jlouise.larson@wninews.com.