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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Koger retiring as director of the United Way
She has been at post for nearly 11 years
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Courtesy Photo: UW Board President Roy Enslow, from left, and Executive Director Pat Koger welcomed Lake Christian Ministries (Mike Bond and Kathy Reynolds) as the United Way’s newest affiliate agency last month. Koger is retiring after nearly 11 years as the executive director.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

Pat Koger, executive director of the United Way of Franklin County, is retiring after nearly 11 years with the agency.

"It has been my privilege and honor to work as executive director of United Way of Franklin County." Koger said. "I don't think I've been prouder of anything I've ever done. At the same time, it can be really humbling to have your work progress posted on a giant tote board near farmers' market for everyone to see."

Koger, who took over the UW post in November 2002, said she has battled health issues in recent years and it's time to take a break.

"I'll still be working as the music director and pianist at my church and may do some part-time or volunteer work," she said. "I haven't lined up anything definite yet. I think I'd really enjoy a couple of weeks with no deadlines or schedules, and then I'll think about what comes next."

But she will miss working with "my agencies," she said.

"As I became friends with the directors and staff members (of the UW agencies) and learned about the work of each agency, they really did feel like my agencies," she said. "I knew what they were doing was important, so I cared about them."

Koger said she had never looked back on her work at the UW until she was compiling some history of the agency recently.

"It blew my mind to see that the total raised during my time here is $3,376,361," she said. "Whew! I can remember that coming in 11 cents at a time from students who brought 11 pennies and donated them as a 9/11 tribute ... and $500 from Marsha Tyree, who collected cans to raise her donation. People on fixed incomes would give $5 and $1."

Her most memorable fundraising campaign moment came in 2008 when she was working the Ferrum College Social Work Club's Bowlathon, she said.

"I was so sick but didn't want anyone to know it that day," Koger said. "Within three days, I was in the hospital, and the doctors were telling my family I wouldn't live through the night."

Many who have worked with Koger appreciate her hard work and dedication.

"I was on the (United Way) board that hired Pat," said long-time board member Peggie Barker. "It was quickly obvious to those of us on the search committee that Pat's education and background made her well suited for the position of executive director of United Way of Franklin County."

Barker said Koger brought "maturity and stability to the position, both critically needed at that particular juncture in United Way's history."

"During her 11-year tenure, Pat has remained deeply committed to the success of United Way and has worked tirelessly with the board and with the partner and affiliate agencies to make that happen," Barker said. "She has accomplished great things in what has basically been a one-person office operation, full of countless hours of behind-the-scene work that's so necessary to a successful campaign."

"I wish for Pat a wonderful retirement," Barker added. "She will be missed!"

Jon Morris heads one of those agencies that has been helped by United Way -- STEP Inc.

"Pat is a tireless promoter for the non-profit agencies in Franklin County," Morris said. "She is an amazing supporter of STEP, but it's hard for me to talk about her only in terms of her support of our organization because she advocates for every agency with the same energy and passion."

Morris said Koger has always believed in the work STEP is doing and the people the agency serves.

"And she is extremely humble about it," he added. "The bottom line is, she cares about this community, about our agencies and those in need. She will be sorely missed, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with her and to get to know her."

Nina Bowles, who was on the UW board when Koger was hired, said Koger has been a dedicated director.

"She was very knowledgeable of the different agencies and was very dedicated to reach out to the entire county to solicit for the United Way," Bowles said. "She was easy to work with and very determined to come up with different ways to reach out."

Former UW board member Becky Grindstaff also worked closely with Koger.

"I worked with her for about seven years," she said, adding that she was always impressed with Koger's dedication to the community.

"It would be nothing for her to be at a business at 4 a.m. or 8 or 9 at night, whenever she could get in front of a group of people to tell them about what UW does in our community."

Grindstaff said Koger always has understood what the United Way is all about.

"She has worked very diligently to put together the citizens review team to determine where the money is most needed," Grindstaff said. "Many may not understand what the United Way is all about, but it's funding non-profits that have the strongest need."

Koger has always been well organized, and when the United Way office had to be moved, "moving was seamless the whole time," she said.

"I enjoyed working with Pat," Grindstaff said. "She has been a strong asset to our community."

Dr. Sam Campbell, director of Helping Hands of Franklin County, a United Way partner agency, emphasized Koger's cooperativeness and attitude.

"What I was impressed with as much as anything was how she was willing to work with people," he said. "We (Helping Hands) get checks quarterly from the United Way, but she would call us to see if she could help if we were running low."

Campbell said that attitude is important and shows she was thinking about the agencies she was serving.

"She has been very cooperative all along," he said. "The main thing is that cooperation, and she's been very helpful, very enthusiastic and upbeat. I'm sorry to see her go."

 
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