Wednesday marked the halfway point in this year’s United Way of Bradley County campaign. Or, as most references Wednesday were based on the sport of football, it marked halftime for the campaign.
Campaign co-chairs Don Lorton and Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald, or coaches as they were called, used Wednesday’s United Way report breakfast to pump up their team players as they reach the ultimate objective of meeting this year’s campaign goal of $2,075,000.
At the half, United Way pledges were reported at $1,140,887, or 55 percent of that goal.
“This is great news, but we still have another half ahead of us, so we need to put as much effort into these next few weeks as we have the first half of the campaign,” stressed Fitzgerald.
As one person in the audience shouted, which sounded much like a rallying cry by players, “we are in it to win it.”
Lorton agreed, reminding the team, “Because of you, we can Live United.”
Fitzgerald presented statistics to those in attendance, pointing out that there are over 22 percent of families just in the 37311 zip code area below the poverty level, as well as 33.8 percent who have no high school diploma.
“There are 20 percent in that specific zip code who make less than $10,000 per year, so we know there are needs, and we can help them,” he said.
Lorton followed these comments by putting a face to those in the area in need.
“I call them ‘the many faces of United Way’,” Lorton continued. “There is the unwed 17-year old pregnant girl who receives help, the troubled young man who needs self-assurance that he can get at the Boys & Girls Clubs, the abused wife who has a safe place to stay, those children with disabilities who are helped by the Signal Center and those children who may not have anything to eat over the weekend but are helped through a United Way program.
“These are the faces of those you are reaching and through your efforts, we can help make these faces smile,” he added.
Pledge amounts reported at Wednesday’s breakfast showed that there are many in this community who want to work at improving the statistics Fitzgerald mentioned, and want to put smiles on these faces that Lorton highlighted.
“We have so many who have already reported great campaigns, and many are here with us today,” said Matt Ryerson, United Way president and chief executive officer. “We want to thank you for being on our team and helping us provide assistance to so many in our community.”
Among the companies spotlighted were Ed Jacobs and Associates, which increased its pledge by 80 percent from 2012; Cleveland City Schools, which an increase of 12 percent; Athens Federal Bank, increasing its pledges by 10 percent; and Cleveland Utilities, which set a new pledge record, exceeding $50,000 while also being involved with the Project Round-Up program that helps provide funds for the Neighbors in Need agency.
Also highlighted at the report breakfast were Southern Heritage Bank, Lee University, the Church of God International Offices, Brenda Lawson and Associates, CapitalMark Bank and Trust, the Bradley County Schools system, BB&T Bank and Manufacturer’s Chemicals.
Several companies which were recognized reported pledges in excess of $100,000, including Proctor & Gamble/Duracell Brand, Life Care Centers of America (a partial total), and Whirlpool Corporation–Cleveland Division. Whirlpool’s pledge total, which was also a partial total, was reported to be nearer the $200,000 mark.
Among those not in attendance, but who had previously reported pledge increases, were Target, Ace Hardware, Flowers Bakery of Cleveland, UPS (United Parcel Service), First National Bank and Cormetech Environmental Technologies Inc.
“Great totals, but let’s remember that we are at halftime, and we want to finish strong,” said United Way of Bradley County Board Chairman Art Rhodes. “We are all on the same team … a team that is working to raise donations that will help thousands in our community. We can do it. We will do it.”