AUSTIN, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. Mark Otte
Texas Military Department
AUSTIN, Texas--The Texas Military Department was recognized at the annual State Employee Charitable Campaign awards banquet, February 16, 2017, in Austin, for its marked jump in giving. Contributions from individuals employed by the agency were up over 100 percent from the previous year with receipts that totaled just short of $20,000.
The two-month long campaign, which runs from September to October, has been providing state employees a safe, reliable way to make contributions to charities since 1994, and topped the $8 million mark in total giving for 2016.
With approximately 500 state employees, the Texas Military Department set a goal to raise $12,000 in 2016, a goal that was almost doubled because of the hard work of campaign co-chairs, Emily Bell, and Tanya Kelly, said Bill Wilson, the Executive Director of the Texas Military Department.
“I have been so impressed with dedication of those two,” Wilson said. “This effort is not a duty assignment, it is beyond the scope of their daily work, but their passion for charity is infectious and has really energized the campaign.”
While the three were happy to be recognized at the awards banquet, they said that the energy spent on the campaign wasn’t focused on winning trophies or awards, but rather to share the opportunity to truly give back to those in need.
"It isn't necessarily about the amount of money we raise," said Bell. "It's about letting everyone know about the opportunity they have, and to grow participation in the program."
While the brunt of the work for the campaign was done by Kelly and Bell, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general for Texas, said that participation in the State Employee Charitable Campaign was a priority from the top down.
"Giving back to the communities where we live, work and serve is something that the Texas Military Department has always taken pride in," said Nichols. "The continued growth in participation in the SECC says a lot about the kind of people who serve day to day as employees of the Texas Military Department."
One faction of the Texas Military Department, the maintenance crew at Camp Mabry, continued its long-standing tradition of 100 percent participation among its employees, an effort that didn't go unnoticed at the front office.
"Peter Byers is a great asset to have on your team," said Kelly, of the head of that department. "He leads by example and encourages everyone around him to get involved, even if it is in a small way."
While Bell and Kelly will continue to take the point next year, they said that new members could expect to help organize and coordinate events that boost giving. Last year the duo hosted a myriad of events intended to amplify participation in the program, and with additional help, hope to expand those efforts.
Waffle Wednesday was an instant hit and is sure to return this year, according to the organizers. A Hallowing costume contest--in which participates entry fee was participation in the SECC-- gave the largest boost in terms of dollars given last year.
The charities employees can choose from are vetted by the campaign so participants can feel secure when giving to organizations through this program. Contributions through the SECC are made via a payroll deduction to make giving convenient. The catalog of participating charities does vary from year to year, but anyone can submit a charity for addition to the list.
The SECC campaign was created by legislation in 1993 and is for state agency and higher education employees throughout Texas. Those on the federal side are able to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign each year.
If a Texas Military Department state employee wants to join the team and help with the 2017 campaign, they are encouraged to contact Emily Bell at StarBase Austin.
"We need people to contact one of these two and let them know they want to get involved,” Wilson said. "Now is a great time to say, 'I want to be a part of this."