United Way editorial was ill-informed
The May 31 editorial, “New CEO could revive United Way” was ill-informed and mean-spirited. Your purpose was clearly not so much to enlighten and inform as to disparage and settle scores with Thomas Krysiek, the president of the United Way of Trumbull County for the past 30 years and who is retiring at the end of this month.
Did you even consider how your scathing comments would strike Krysiek’s family, colleagues and directors of the local non-profit agencies he has helped over the years? Not to mention the many thousands of local people who benefited from United Way-funded programs and services.
You may dislike Krysiek, but you had a journalistic duty to be fair and accurate. After all, he had a successful career and during his time in Warren the United Way raised more than $80 million for local human services. According to John A. Guarnieri (Tribune, March 29, “Tom transformed and led our United Way beyond its key fundraising role to a leader in addressing human needs and community problems.”
One of your chief complaints is that United Way fundraising in Trumbull County has “dropped from $3 million annually before the 2008 recession to about $1 million, but in Mahoning County fund-raising has dipped from $3 million to still more than $2.5 million.” The fact is that during the early and mid-1990s, our goals were more than $3 million and in 1991 we raised more than $3.4 million.
I was campaign director in Trumbull County for 21 years and a volunteer for several years prior to that while working at Wean United. Last November, I was re-hired as interim campaign director on a part-time basis. My comments can be seen as self-serving but the fact is that between 2000 and 2010 Trumbull County has lost 24,826 jobs or 26.2 percent of its jobs and during the same period lost 12,862 or 49 percent of all manufacturing jobs. That work force decline accounted for a campaign loss of about $2 million ($1 million from a single company) annually. That’s simple, painful economics. It’s quite likely that the Tribune felt the economic impact on its circulation and advertising. Certainly, local communities have seen tax revenue decline with the manufacturing base. Our United Way was not immune. In fact, the United Way staff has shrunk from seven full-time employees to the current two full-time and three part-time.
Your assertion about our United Way failing to set a fund-raising goal for “many” years is simply wrong. When economic (there’s that word again) conditions (such as a company downsizing, pending plant closing, work stoppage, etc.) made it impossible to set a fact-based, realistic dollar goal, our volunteers set a goal of raising more dollars than the previous year. I can tell you that, with board approval, Krysiek often set aggressive fund-raising goals and pushed staff and volunteers to make extra efforts and focus on broadening our base of support.
Finally, I’m sure your call for renewed support of our United Way is welcomed by the incoming United Way president. The Tribune can have a positive impact on the outcome of her efforts.