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By JUDY SHERARD


Article published in the Hays Daily News on September 20, 2011. Visit Hays Daily News at www.hdnews.net for more information.



jsherard@dailynews.net

Jason Rauch, the new executive director of United Way of Ellis County, couldn't have picked a busier time to start his new job.

"Coming in the middle of a campaign is a good way to get running fast," he said.

The organization kicked off its annual fundraising campaign at the same Chamber of Commerce luncheon in August where Rauch was introduced.

Approximately 70 people applied for the position, said John Scheck, president of the United Way of Ellis County board of directors.

"With his background and grant-writing abilities, Rauch is a good fit for the organization. He will strengthen the organization's relationship with its agencies," Scheck said.

Rauch's last position was director of family and community development for a six-county region in Missouri's bootheel in the southeast portion of the state.

As director, he was in charge of six programs: self-sufficiency, energy assistance, homelessness, domestic violence, children's food program and Title 10 health clinics.

Because it was a poor area economically, the communities waited for others to help, Rauch said.

"Here it's like a complete 180," he said. "You have a community that's so determined to make things better, and so unified already, that it's a great transition."

Rauch grew up in northwest Missouri, and his family now lives in St. Joseph, Mo. He's worked for nonprofit organizations for 12 years.

His former positions were dependent on state or federal funding. He started looking for another position because of funding cuts and layoffs.

"It's nice to move to a community initiative where it's dealing one-on-one with people and not waiting to see what comes down from either the state capital or the nation's capital."

United Way of Ellis County started the process of community impact and community engagement six or seven years ago. That process looks at outcomes after a person has been through the program, Scheck said.

"Jason will take us to the next level," he said.

Rauch will be working with the board to create a volunteer network to strengthen projects. He expects to get started on a network next year, he said.

"It's going to work every day knowing that you're not going to be fighting everyone in your community, but knowing that you're a part of that community making great things happen. That's a big excitement," Rauch said.

The United Way website is www.liveunited.us.
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