UTPA employees set new records in charitable giving
Posted: 04/08/2013
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Felipe Salinas was taught by his parents to give back to his community - both in volunteer work and monetary contributions to help others.

Pictured with the trophies received by UT Pan American at the State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC) RGV Awards Ceremony April 4 are Dr. Larae Elias, assistant director of Human Resources and UTPA SECC coordinator; Dr. Robert Nelsen, UTPA president; Thelma Garza, president, United Way of South Texas; Tanzeer Ahmed, Human Resources training coordinator and UTPA SECC coordinator (alternate); Martin Baylor, UTPA vice president for Business Affairs; and Daniel Gutierrez, assistant vice president for Business Affairs/Human Resources director, and UTPA SECC coordinator.

"It is a habit, something I never hesitate to do," said the grant writer at The University of Texas-Pan American.

When his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which targets new treatments and a cure, rose to the top of the list of charitable organizations he donates to each year through the Texas State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC), one of the largest state employee campaigns in the nation.

As an enthusiastic and generous contributor to the SECC from UTPA, Salinas isn't alone. This year employees of UT Pan American broke records in the four-county Rio Grande Valley area of the statewide campaign, winning two trophies for their charitable giving.

During an SECC RGV Awards Ceremony on April 4 at the University, UTPA received the Shining Star Award for obtaining the highest percentage of increase in giving by a higher education institution in the region, and the Lone Star Award for being the largest contributing agency among the 30 state agencies and higher education institutions in the RGV region.

UTPA employees donated nearly $47,000 of the $242,959.77 contributed by the region's state employees during the campaign, which runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 annually. UTPA raised its 2012 participation rate by 68 percent from last year.

"In the Valley our per capita gift always challenges the 'big boys' - the large metropolitan areas of Dallas and San Antonio where you have very large numbers. We always compete very favorably with them," said ceremony moderator Dagoberto Garza, an employee in the RGV office of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and a member of the local campaign committee.

UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen said the record breaking contributions from UT Pan American employees tell a lot about the heart of the University and its engagement with the community.

"It is an amazing act when so many people come together to be able to give to others. It's always from the kindness of others that we can progress in this world and Pan Am - boy, it stepped up big time. We set records this time. People really care and they are willing to sacrifice to help others," he said. "How can you not take pride in that? How can you not believe in the University? How can you not believe in our people?"

At the ceremony a Shining Star Award also went to the Texas Department of Transportation for the highest percent of increase in participation by employees at RGV state agencies. State employees who worked on the RGV area campaign, which is managed by the United Way of South Texas, were also recognized at the event.

Created by legislation in 1993, the SECC initiated its first campaign in 1994. Since then, the campaign has grown to exceed $9.485 million donated to hundreds of approved local, statewide, national and international charitable organizations in 2012. Learn more about the campaign at the SECC website.