United Way challenged to go “full steam ahead”

As the Hutchinson County United Way prepares to kickoff another campaign, it was challenged to proceed full steam ahead. Brent McClure, VP and General Manager of News Channel 10 Media in Amarillo, was the featured speaker for the HCUW Executive Luncheon held Thursday afternoon in the Rig Room, located on the third floor of Borger Bank. McClure said as general manager of the news station, he knows it is important for his news team to be a part of the community. “If we are not part of the community, we can’t tell the news of the community and get the word out,” he said. He asked the crowd if there was a need for United Way in the Hutchinson County community, and the overwhelming response was yes. “Can you tell that story if someone asks you that?” he asked. “If there’s need and the United Way exists, then there’s the need for you to tell the story. Point blank.” McClure said he grew up in the Levelland/Morton area and has been in the Amarillo area for six years now. He is married with three daughters. He said his life is busy enough, but he feels working with United Way is something he is called to do. He said his father was a tractor mechanic when the family wasn’t farming, and he grew up in a modest two-bedroom home with limited amenities. “That’s all I knew,” McClure said. “I remember being hungry sometimes and not having a lot of things.” Despite his circumstances, he said he was all about seeking out who he was and what he was supposed to do for his community. He said when his family moved to Lubbock, his fourth grade teacher encouraged him and pushed him to be all that he could be.He also worked at a gas station where he learned valuable life skills. McClure said he had a great general manager at the station he worked at prior to coming to News Channel 10 who lifted him up and empowered him. He got to work in and manage several different departments while he was there and gained wisdom and experience from the people in those departments. “Was I asking for a handout? No. But they thought enough of me to give me something and lift me up,” he said. “To me, that’s the United Way. That’s what you’re doing.” Growing up, he described himself as a “latchkey kid” who spent time at the Boys Club and walked himself to school in second and third grade. He said people helped him during that time of his life that he probably wasn’t even aware of. “You’re here in the United Way to give your life, not to give your money,” McClure said. He encouraged people in the audience to give of their time and income to invest in an organization that will distribute money properly to help people in the community. McClure said there are about 212 non-profit organizations in the Amarillo area, and he receives inquiries from those agencies constantly. He said he has to fight not getting calloused to need. However, he said United Way filters the funds that come through it to make sure they get to the places where there is great need. He said it takes everyone standing up at their respective companies and making the United Way cause known. In the Amarillo campaign, McClure said about 65 percent of the money that comes in is from individual contributors. “Who gives? A lot of times the people that receive, because they know they were helped,” he said. He said his campaign vision last year was raising money to raise people, those that just needed a little extra. “That little extra makes a difference,” McClure said. He asked the audience if they knew the value of 212 degrees. He said at that temperature water boils. He said when water is at 211 degrees, it’s still just hot water with no steam. “This campaign, this community is sitting at 211 degrees,” he said. “How will you take it to 212 degrees to really serve the needs in this community?” McClure asked if people were going to give their time, would they rather it be a little useful or fully maximized. He said that the 212th degree, the one degree of difference, is what matters most. “It has to be our own community that picks up the ball and carries it,” he said. Julie Winters, executive director of the HCUW, said that in 2010, the corporation’s giving was the top per capita of any United Way in Texas. She said this year’s goal, which has not been revealed yet, will be ambitious, but she believes the community can make it happen.