The United Way of Douglas County came up just $64,000 short of its $1.46 million goal during a year in which financial fallout from the terrorist attacks plagued charities across the country.
"To be that close with the circumstances they were dealing with says a lot for Douglas County," said David Ambler, vice chancellor of student affairs at Kansas University.
The challenge for Ambler and his wife, Mary Kate, will be to get donations back on track so the organization can meet its 2002-2003 goal. The Amblers will chair the upcoming campaign, United Way officials announced Wednesday.
The campaign goal won't be announced until early June, after the United Way determines agency allocations, said Jo Bryant, executive director. The campaign will kick off in September with the Day of Caring.
In addition to his position at the university, David Ambler has served on the United Way board of directors, the Holcom Recreation Center Foundation and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
He will retire in August after 25 years with the university and should have a little extra time on his hands to work on the campaign. However, much of the initial work including more than 800 hours spent visiting local agencies and reviewing their proposals must be completed by early May.
Mary Kate Ambler is a long-time community volunteer who has served on Court Appointed Special Advocates' board of directors, Lawrence Arts Commission and Lawrence Arts Center board.
The Amblers are the second married couple to lead the Douglas County drive. Two years ago, Connie and Gary Sollars chaired the campaign.
Mary Kate Ambler said she was looking forward to becoming acquainted with the community's needs and meeting new people.
"Every time you do any kind of community project, you have wonderful opportunities to meet some people you would never have become acquainted with in any other way," she said.
David Ambler admitted it would be a challenge to recover after such a tough year.
"But I'm confident we can do it," he said.