AUGUSTA — The 2012 fundraising campaign of United Way of Kennebec Valley is halfway to its $1.5 million goal.

Twenty pace-setting organizations announced they raised almost $763,000 so far at a breakfast Thursday morning at the Augusta Civic Center kicking off the community portion of the campaign.

Reports were made to pace-setting co-chairmen Matthew and Michael Tardiff of J.S. McCarthy Printers in Augusta. Last year, the drive exceeded its $1.5 million goal.

And people who helped raise the money heard from those who benefited from organizations supported by the United Way.

Sarah Gaffney of Vassalboro thanked the group for aiding the Kennebec Valley YMCA, which offers her family a scholarship so her 1-year-old daughter Zoe can attend the Learning Center child care program in Augusta.

Gaffney, volunteer coordinator with the Maine Conservation Corps, said that aid allows her to continue as the family’s breadwinner. Her husband recently had to give up his job because of radiation treatment for a tumor.

Gaffney also said all of the Learning Center teachers offered to baby-sit Zoe while Gaffney drives her husband for medical appointments and treatments.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the people at the Y and everything they do to support us,” Gaffney said.

Wanda Braithwaite-Baril, coordinator of the gardening and hunger-prevention program at the Rural Community Action Ministry in Leeds, described her lack of gardening skills when she arrived years ago as a transplant from New York City.

Instead of buying composted manure, for instance, she opted for the freshly produced, killing all her plants. Friends introduced her to the educational program. “The more I volunteered, the more I learned,” she said.

Today, the agency aids people in 13 rural towns, and her program in particular “helps to make families self-sufficient,” she said, adding, “It’s your donations that allow us to do what we do.”

Brandi Farrington, director of Halcyon House in Skowhegan, a shelter for homeless youths ages 10-17, thanked contributors for enabling the home to get new furniture. Halcyon House is a program of Kennebec Behavioral Health.

“You really made an impact on kids’ lives,” she said.

The United Way of Kennebec Valley supports organizations that serve people in 19 municipalities by “identifying human care needs, raising and allocating funds to meet those needs, and encouraging volunteers to participate in community service,” according to its website at

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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