AUGUSTA — Dozens of supporters and beneficiaries on Monday gathered at the Governor Hill Mansion to celebrate another year in which the United Way of Kennebec Vally met its goal of raising more than $1.5 million to support local service agencies.

Executive Director Rob Gordon said the fundraiser, which launched in August, exceeded the $1.5 million goal by more than $36,000. The money will be distributed to more than 50 local programs that help people in need, from agencies that aid children with developmental disabilities to food pantries.

“People are very generous,” Gordon said. “Virtually everyone knows someone who’s benefited from one program or another.”

The quiet part of the campaign, which kicked off in August, raised roughly half the goal through donations from local businesses by the time the public part began in September with campaign co-chairs Craig and Stephanie Garofalo leading the effort over the next few months to raise the remaining $750,000.

“We had a lot of really good community support,” Craig Garofalo said. “I think the United Way has a special place in people’s hearts. This organization is near and dear to our community’s heart.”

Katie McNaughton, program director for Families Matter, said the United Way money it receives helps clients attend Special Olympics in Maine.

“It’s made such a big difference in all of our clients’ lives,” McNaughton said.

So much so, in fact, that Family Matters employees and clients hosted a bowl-a-thon to raise money for the campaign. McNaughton said clients who sought sponsors from friends and families raised $1,800.

“They’ve given so much to us,” McNaughton said. “We want to instill in our clients giving back to the community.”

The United Way of Kennebec Valley has set a goal of $1.5 million for several years and has not failed to reach and exceed that number.

“People care about our community,” McNaughton said. “The United Way is a great organization. I think that’s why people give.”

Gordon said the diversity of programs the United Way supports means that it intersects with people of all walks of life.

“The services we’re supporting are the kinds of things anyone could need at any time,” Gordon said.

Board Chairwoman Christine Devine said the United Way’s reputation produces a multiplier effect when it comes to raising money for small agencies that rely heavily on the funding they receive.

“These small agencies couldn’t do it by themselves,” Devine said. “The collaborative effort makes the difference.”

Jeff Johnson, executive director of The Children’s Center, which provides support and programs for children with developmental disabilities and their families, said a significant number of children are unable to pay for the help they receive. The Children’s Center can offer a wide range of services to those children and their families because of the money the program receives from the United Way.

“For those families they provide support to it’s invaluable,” Johnson said. “It isn’t just about money. It allows people to walk and talk.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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