With the beginning of September comes the start of the campaigns of United Ways across our region.
Each of the United Ways that serve our area's residents - the Jefferson County United Way, the Weirton United Way and the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley - fills a vital need, with money that's collected providing much-needed resources to agencies and programs that might otherwise not be able to continue to offer services to area residents.
While each is run by a professional director with the help of paid staff members, volunteers continue to serve as the backbone of their efforts.
That was demonstrated again Thursday night, when the United Way of Jefferson County inducted the newest members into its Jefferson Society Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place during the annual Jazz in the Garden event, which recognizes those who donate at the $300 level and was held for the second year in a row at the Orlando Manor home of Lisa and Derek Ferguson.
This year's honorees were Sophie Schoolcraft, the director of Mingo Junction Social Services; Todd Piergallini of Piergallini Catering, a longtime supporter of the United Way; and Suzanne Kresser, former United Way executive director who remains an active United Way volunteer.
Each member of this year's class has demonstrated a drive and commitment to our communities in general and the United Way in particular, and each is very deserving of the honor.
The United Way of Jefferson County, by the way, will hold its annual campaign kickoff from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the YMCA Wellness Center at the St. John Arena. The event will be held in conjunction with this month's business after hours sponsored by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
For those of us who are lifelong fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, this past week was very gratifying, to say the least. Their 4-3 win in Milwaukee on Tuesday guaranteed that they would not have a losing season, snapping a 20-year streak.
That's a long time - consider that the last time the Pirates finished above the .500 mark, George H.W. Bush was president and in the middle of a heated election battle with Bill Clinton, who would eventually win the White House. He'd be followed by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Like with many Pirates fans, my memory of Oct. 14, 1992, remains fresh. That's the night Francisco Cabrera drove in David Justice and former Pirate Sid Bream in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series to put Atlanta into the World Series. Bream, by the way, managed to score just ahead of a throw from Barry Bonds, who was playing his last game in a Pirates uniform.
Since then, things have not really gone the Pirates way - until this year. What makes it even better is that this year's team is looking beyond the .500 mark and clearly has its sights set not just on making the playoffs, but on winning the National League's Central Division outright and avoiding the dreaded one-game playoff that will determine the league's wild card entry.
There's an excitement growing across our region that has been missing for a long time, and you can get a real appreciation of that by reading the story that begins on the front page of today's edition. If you haven't taken a look at it yet, you will want to - it offers the thoughts of a sampling of area residents who have plenty to cheer about.
For the first time in quite a while, there's less attention being paid to the Steelers, who open their regular season today when they meet Tennessee at Heinz Field, and the Penguins, who open training camp Wednesday, than to the Pirates.
But that's not surprising. There's a pennant race to be followed, after all, and - dare we look too far ahead - by all indications, the potential for a playoff run that could last well into October.
Let's go Bucs.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)