Campaign: Chatty Cats dialing up support for the Loyalty Fund

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To borrow a phrase from the U.S. Navy, for junior Kelli Baer, finding employment as a student caller for the Loyalty Fund Phonathon is more than just a job. It’s an adventure. “I love getting to speak with alumni and hearing about their experiences while they were at WCU,” said Baer, an elementry education major from Cashiers. “I have worked on this job for three semesters now, and I learn something new every night.”

Baer said that being among “the Chatty Cats” also allows her to give something back to a program that has assisted her over the years through scholarship dollars that enable her to continue toward her degree. “I am so grateful for the scholarship assistance I have received,” she said. “By making these phone calls and raising money for the university, I know I am helping make a difference in the lives of other students.”

Campaign_logo09Baer and the Chatty Cats play a vital role in soliciting contributions for Western’s annual Loyalty Fund, said Natalie Clark, newly appointed director of annual giving. “Making an annual contribution to the Loyalty Fund is the primary way for all alumni, parents and friends to show support for WCU,” said Clark. “The fund helps provide more than 200 merit-based scholarships every year. Every dollar contributed makes it possible for the best and most capable students to benefit from the academic environment of the university.”

The Loyalty Fund Phonathon will begin Jan. 20. The Chatty Cats are working the phone lines Monday through Thursdays between 6 and 9 p.m. “We’ll be contacting alumni and friends during that block of time in the hopes we aren’t catching anyone while they are cooking dinner or watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’” Clark said.

Although new to the position of director of annual giving, Clark is no newcomer to the university. She grew up in Waynesville as daughter of Western alumnus Darrell Clark ’75 and granddaughter of alumnus R.L. Clark ’53. “I can remember coming to WCU for science fairs, band competition and sporting events throughout my childhood,” she said. “It’s amazing to come back and see all of the dramatic change that has happened on campus, and it’s great to hear our callers talk with alumni about those changes.”

Clark is the latest addition to a growing team of advancement professionals responsible for administering the Campaign for Western, the first comprehensive fundraising effort in the university’s history. The campaign, launched in February 2007, has a goal of at least $40 million in private support for Western by 2010. Also recently joining the Office of Advancement is Chris Mueller, a former member of the Stamats consulting firm, as director of resource development. Jim Manring ’74 MBA ’78 is senior director of development, and Jim Miller is associate vice chancellor for development.