United Way gala celebrates donors

The United Way of Amarillo and Canyon celebrated the 11,000 donors who supported the 501 (c)(3) organization’s endeavors in 2017 with a gala Saturday night at the Embassy Suites in downtown Amarillo.


It was an evening to celebrate and thank donors and volunteers — who contributed $4.5 million last year — and also an evening to raise funds for the charity.

“This is fun way to have a tangible end (of the fundraising year) for people and try to get a few thousand dollars more in the door with our silent auctions and live auction,” said Katie Noffsker, UWAC executive of director.

UWAC says it provides 1,231,377 services through program providers to 99,663 people in the Panhandle and they are able to do so because of individual contributions.

“United Way exists to fund solutions to community problems and we do that through the work of our partners so really the biggest success goes to them,” Noffsker said. “We have a lot of companies that are really doing everything they can to help raise funds for us. We have people that give us a dollar a paycheck and we have people that give us $20,000 a year.”

Terry Price has been supporting UWAC for more than 40 years through her employer Xcel Energy. She also volunteers as a loan executive and runs UWAC’s employee campaign coordinator training.

“I love what they do for the community,” she said. “They reach all age groups from young to old. And people in the community can come together and help so many different agencies. There are so many ways to help.”

UWAC provides financial support to more than 20 local charitable organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Amarillo, Buckner Children & Family Services and Jan Werner Adult Day Care Center.

Price said, “I’ve seen them help the young with child care, I’ve seen them help the elderly — provide meals, with activities at Jan Werner and the ability to have a bus ride to and from so they don’t have to sit at home and be alone.”

Cesar Garza, who also gives his financial and physical support, was introduced to UWAC through his employer Asarco 10 years ago.

“It’s a great organization and I’m going to keep doing as much as I can,” Garza said. “I’m married to a teacher and a lot of the stuff United Way does goes toward the kids that she teaches. It makes me feel good to give to something that helps the community and helps families in need because I’ve been there.”

John “Lucky” Luciano, Street Volkswagen general manager and UWAC board member, said it’s not just him but his entire staff that supports the local branch of the national organization.

“They want our community to be better. You know how much Street Auto Group loves Amarillo and this is just a great way to give back,” Luciano said. “We give back in so many areas because of all the things (Amarillo) gives us. We truly understand we don’t have our business without this community. To give back is an honor. To be able to give that money back, make sure that it stays here and have that impact is what’s important.”