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SECC poster
SECC runs through Oct. 31

SECC: UTSA employees tell why they give

By Lynn Gosnell
Special Projects Writer

(Oct. 23, 2008)--Why participate in this year's State Employee Charitable Campaign? We polled UTSA's 30 Super Delegates, those staff and faculty who are leading the 2008 State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC), to ask why they give -- and who they support.

Their answers reflected both the practical convenience of donating through the SECC, the desire to make a difference in the lives of people in need and the satisfaction of investing in nonprofits that enrich our daily lives.

For many donors, knowing that SECC and United Way promote good stewardship of their gift is front and center in their decision to participate. The percentage of annual fundraising and administrative costs (as a percent of total income) is noted on each listing in the Directory of Charities.

For Peter Morales, assistant director of career services in the College of Business, that's a plus. He supports the American Heart Association.

Knowing that the participating organizations are "legitimate" eases the mind of Michelle Philips, senior administrative associate. This year she supported American Red Cross and a unique program to assist veterans. The Paws for Purple Hearts program of the Assistance Dog Institute helps veterans with posttraumatic stress syndrome learn how to train service dogs.

The convenience of payroll deduction makes giving through SECC an attractive prospect. "I don't have to remember to write a check, and I don't miss the cash because I never see it!" said Sarah Gonzales, a computer analyst who is contributing to the Catholic Education Fund, the American Cancer Society and Texas Public Radio.

Director of Admissions Jennifer Ehlers compares perusing the SECC Directory of Charities to looking at a gift catalog. "I remember my first time to review all the contribution options through the SECC. It reminded me of being a child and looking through the catalog to circle all the things you wanted for Christmas." Ehlers typically marks "entirely too many worthwhile charities" to support, before thoughtfully narrowing her list.

"I normally do not change much from year to year, but happenings in the world, my community or in the lives of family or friends have influenced my choices in the past," Ehlers said.

Personal experience plays an enormous role in people's decisions about what organizations to support with their hard-earned dollars.

For Joe Rubio, a strong supporter of Boysville, his gift is deeply personal. "I was raised in a boys' home in Houston until the Rubio family adopted me and brought me to San Antonio. "There was no United Way agency that oversaw the treatment or nutrition factors of this home, so life was hard..."

This year, Rubio donated to the Humane Society of Bexar County in honor of his dog, who recently died after providing 15 years of companionship.

Assistant Vice Provost Bill Angrove is motivated to "help people in need" by supporting the American Brain Tumor Association and the Breast Cancer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. Both donations honor the loss of family members.

Many SECC leaders give out of gratefulness for their own health and well-being. "I have been blessed with a wonderful family, a great place to work and good health. I know there are so many people out there of all ages who have fallen on hard times," said Sherry Lindsey, a staff member in the Office of External Affairs. Lindsey's donations support services to children and the elderly.

A public university must demonstrate its commitment to the community, said Kelly Jo Stephens, an administrator in the College of Sciences. "If we promote higher education as being vital to the well-being of our community, our state and our nation, then we should also promote an awareness that there are sometimes major obstacles to obtaining a degree," she said.

SAMMinistries, the Girl Scouts and Communities in Schools are among the organizations that Stephens supports annually. However, because of Hurricane Ike, Stephens also donated to Adopt-A-Beach. "I thought our coastline may need extra cleaning this year," she reasoned.

There are more than 500 agencies and nonprofit organizations listed in the 2008 SECC Directory of Charities. What about the ones that don't get as much attention?

Jana Kennelly, associate director of development, solves the problem this way. She directs her donation to "the overall United Way to help charities that do not get much support."

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If you have not made an SECC donation, it's not too late. The campaign runs through Oct. 31. Make your donation online, or turn in your donation form to your Area Delegate or send it to the Office of the President.

>> Want to donate online to SECC? Here's how...

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