United Way nears goal
by Special to the Banner
Dec 12, 2013 | 1074 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special awards given
Taylor Howard, center, was presented the “Campaign MVP” award at Wednesday’s United Way of Bradley County report breakfast. The award is signified by the United Way’s traditional Big Chief, which Howard is holding. With Howard are Campaign co-chairs Don Lorton, left, and Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald.
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United Way of Bradley County at its report breakfast Wednesday reported nearing its 2013 fundraising goal. It also took the opportunity at this event to present awards to several who have made this a successful campaign so far.

United Way leaders announced reaching 95 percent of the $2,075,000 goal at a special report breakfast held at the Mountain View Inn. Pledges totaling $1,971,000 were reported at the event.

“We are close, but we, as a group and as a community, still have some work to do, and every second counts as we near the finalization of the campaign,” said Art Rhodes in a videotaped welcome to United Way supporters.

Campaign co-chairs Don Lorton and Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald echoed Rhodes’ comments.

“It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that when we say ‘your gift helped 12,000 people’ that those are 12,000 individuals … each with a name, a face, and a story,” Fitzgerald stressed. “The United Way epitomizes the idea that we are stronger together. The power for real and lasting change lies in our ability to act collectively. Your individual efforts and contributions are what make this possible,” he said.

“Because of you … we have tossed that theme around all throughout the campaign, and it is true,” Lorton added. “No other organization has the ability to unite people from the private, public and nonprofit sectors in the interest of the common good.

“The United Way is more than an organization; it’s a movement,” Lorton continued. “How else would you describe the work of more than 150 volunteers that raised nearly $2 million from 6,000 donors and invested them in 27 different programs that provided help and support to almost 12,000 people? That is what I think is so incredible about the United Way.”

Several companies which conduct United Way campaigns were honored at the breakfast, while many new internal campaigns or sites where campaigns had not been held in recent years were also recognized.

Possibly the highlight of the present pledge total is that $132,500 is from new donors … those who have never given to United Way of Bradley County before. “I believe this is perhaps one of the more exciting pieces of news to-date,” said Lorton.

Other news from the report breakfast was the announcement of two volunteer awards, and an award for one company for their commitment to helping others through their United Way work.

“As most of you know, historically Campaign co-chairs have recruited teams and competed to see which could raise the most money,” Fitzgerald said. The leader of this team became the recipient of the Big Chief Award.

This year, since both Lorton and Fitzgerald had previously received this award, the Big Chief Award was also named the “Campaign MVP Award,” and went to longtime supporter Taylor Howard.

“Taylor has always had a soft spot, and a heart for giving to help others in need, and especially has worked with the United Way to provide that assistance,” said Jay Leggett, who presented the award. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving for the years he has put in with United Way, and the way he wants to provide what he can for others.”

A new award was presented at Wednesday’s luncheon: the Emerging Leader award. United Way supporter Andy Williams received this first-time honor.

“Andy has worked with United Way in several different ways, and as I support United Way and its work in our community, Andy is equally if not more supportive of the organization” said award presenter Ed Jacobs. Williams presently serves on the United Way board of directors and Executive Committee, as well as heading up the Insurance Division of the campaign this year and for several prior years.

Ace Hardware received the Community Spirit Award for the company’s work with United Way for the past several years. Award presenter Nancy Casson said that 2013 was an even more special year for Ace Hardware and United Way.

“Ace not only held its Labor Day weekend sale to benefit United Way, for the sixth year I believe, this year, but had a company campaign, and was very involved in our kickoff celebration … our Day of Action … by providing materials for other groups to use for their projects, and working on a project of their own,” Casson said.

Ace Hardware volunteers worked on a project at the Blythe Avenue unit for the Boys & Girls Clubs, and not only spent the morning of the Day of Action on the project, but did preparation work before that day and returned after lunch to finish the job.

“They are very dedicated to helping in our community and to our United Way,” Casson said.

Two other United Way of Bradley County awards — the William F. Johnson Sr. Community Service Award and the Jim Tucker Award — will be presented at the United Way annual banquet in March.

Cookbooks developed by Check Into Cash, with all proceeds going to United Way of Bradley County, were unveiled for the first time at Wednesday’s breakfast. These $20 cookbooks celebrate United Way’s 75th anniversary, and are available for purchase at the United Way and Check Into Cash offices, at BonLife Coffee on Inman Street, at the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce, and at the Red Ribbon.

A few companies are still completing their 2013 campaigns, and there is still the opportunity to make a donation to United Way. To make a donation online, go to the United Way of Bradley County website at www.unitedwaybc.com.