United Way kicks off 2004 campaign; sets fund-raising goal of $183,000


Photo by Dave Boyd
United Way President Richard Tester (right) and Kelly Geagley, commercial division chairman, team up at Thursday morningÕs kick-off breakfast to challenge division chairmen to meet the 2004 goal of $183,000.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com
The Elizabethton-Carter County United Way has set a fund-raising goal at $183,000 for 2004. At a campaign kick-off breakfast Thursday morning, Chairman Richard Tester said the goal is lowered each year, and yet the needs of UW agencies are increasing.
"Carter County is struggling right now. Our economy is not so good. We have lost businesses and industries. People are without jobs. More than ever, there is the need to unite to meet the increasing needs caused by the loss of jobs and to help our senior citizens and boys and girls," Tester said as he challenged board members and agency representatives to spread the word about United Way.
"Our agencies work hard to provide services to the community and to help meet the needs, and it's our job to educate the general public about not only the needs, but what United Way is doing to meet those needs," he said.
Agencies served by United Way of Elizabethton-Carter County include the UETHDA-Elizabethton Neighborhood Service Center, Boys and Girls Club, Community Day Care Center, Senior Citizens Center, ARM, Boy Scouts of the Sequoyah Council, and the Carter County Red Cross.
Carol Williams of ARM told those at the breakfast that although the agency is a Christian outreach ministry and enjoys great support from churches in the community, "the constant support of United Way makes the difference."
Williams said ARM, located on Broad Street, has already helped more than 1,700 people this year. "We have given out 750 food baskets this year -- 119 last month," she said. "People of this community do not realize the impact United Way has. It makes a difference in us helping those who are coming up short."
Brenda Johnson of the Neighborhood Service Center, said, "We receive government funds to help with heat bills, but it is United Way that helps us to bridge the gap. It provides us funding to do things that our government funds won't allow us to do such as turn the lights back on when a bill has not been paid and there is no money to turn them on. My job would be very complicated if it were not for the United Way."
At the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center, needs are being met every day said Kathy Dula, assistant director. "We provide nutritional meals every day, transportation, which is a vital need for so many of our seniors, and we send out 120 meals every day to the homebound. We have to have money to make these programs work," said Dula, who noted the program had made some serious cuts last year. "We can count on United Way. We know that check is going to be there the first of every month to help pay the utility bills," she said.
Representatives from each UW agency shared how vital funds are to their operation and to the services they provide. "We couldn't do it without the United Way," said John Malone, the new director of the Boys and Girls Club.
Brenda Wallace, Executive Director of the United Way, said, "Education is an important part of the United Way campaign. The public needs to know how the money is used and the impact it has on this community. They know nothing about United Way unless they are told."
Tester echoed Wallace's message. "We need to tell everyone about United Way and the needs they are meeting in our community through the various agencies that receive the funds," he said.
Locally, 78.52 percent of the funds raised go to member agencies while 17.53 percent goes to administrative expenses; .55 percent to campaign expenses; .66 percent to United Way of America, and 2.74 percent is uncollectible pledges and donor options to other agencies.
In many businesses and industries, pledges and donations are payroll deductible.
A brochure in today's edition of the STAR contains information on how to give to United Way. Simply choose the way you want to give, fill out the appropriate form and mail it along with your check to United Way of Elizabethton-Carter County, P.O. Box 1715, Elizabethton, TN 36644-1715.
This year's kick-off breakfast was hosted by the Elizabethton Recreation Center of which Mike Mains is director. Food for the breakfast was donated by local businesses.
In addition to Tester, other officers of the Elizabethton-Carter County United Way include Kathleen Dauser, First Vice President; Kelly Geagley, Second Vice President; Loretta Pierce, Treasurer; and board members Duncan Street, Sharon Sheppard, Faye Hayes, Dottie Brookshire, Mike Mains, Angie Robinson, Charlie Robinson, Monica Feathers, Gene Sams, Judy Jones, Grace Ann Estep, Roberta Hardin, Mike Hardin and Keith Whitehead.
Campaign division chairmen are Kelly Geagley and Judy Jones, commercial; Monica Feathers, industrial; Mike Mains and Angie Robinson, public service; Sharon Sheppard and Dottie Brookshire, professional; and Brenda Wallace and Tina Garrison, residential