United Way kicks off annual campaign

By Rozella Hardin

STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   The Elizabethton/Carter County United Way kicked off its annual campaign Monday with a dinner at the local Boys and Girls Club. On hand for the kick-off were representatives from various agencies served by the United Way as well as a number of community volunteers and civic leaders.
   The United Way has set $190,000 as its 2003 goal. Organizations served by the United Way include the Red Cross, the Community Day Care and Learning Center, the Senior Citizens, the UETHDA Elizabethton Neighborhood Service Center, ARM (Assistance and Resource Ministries), the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton and Carter County, the Boy Scouts - Sequoyah Council, and Frontier Health.
   Each of the agencies is non-profit, tax exempt, and governed by a volunteer board.
   Officers of the local United Way include President Kathleen Danuser; Vice-President Richard Tester; and Treasurer Loretta Pierce.
   Various representatives from United Way agencies were introduced at Monday's kickoff and shared some of the services they offer as well as how United Way monies help them perform services.
   Darrell Crowe, Director of the Elizabethton Boys and Girls Club, said the club serves approximately 100 kids in its after-school program and provides afternoon transportation from school to home for 80 to 100 kids.
   "We have a computer lab, a fine arts, and arts, area, a library learning center, a games room, meeting room, as well as field trips, t-ball, basketball, and football. We're open every day during the week from 2 to 7 p.m. and we're here for the kids," Crowe said.
   Brenda Johnson of the Neighborhood Service Center said United Way funds help close the gap in the area of finances. The agency helps families with utility bills, medical and dental bills, shelter, eyeglasses, and shoes.
   Complementing the Neighborhood Service Center is Arms (Assistance and Resource Ministries), which has a clothes closet and food pantry, assists families in need with rent and utility deposits, and sponsors a shoe program for school children. "We can always depend on our check every month from United Way. All other support is sporadic," Director Diana Hodge said.
   A spokesman for the Red Cross office in Kingsport said the local office is now open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily. "We hope soon to have the office open on a full-time basis, but we do need volunteers and funds to do that," the spokesman said.
   Other agency representatives voiced their support of United Way and shared how their agencies are helped by monthly support from the organization.
   "What this amounts to is that it is this community that supports the United Way, and it is the money given by the people who live and work in this community that help keep these agencies going," said Mike Mains, a member of the United Way board of directors.
   Mains challenged those present to tell others about the good things that United Way is doing and what their agency is doing in this community. "That's the only way we're going to meet our goal," he said.
   Harry Ford of Sycamore Shoals Hospital said the hospital set $9,000 as its goal this year. "As of today, we have surpassed our goal by $2,300. Last year was a bad year for our campaign at the hospital, but with the full support of Mountain States Hospital we have surpassed our goal this year," Ford said.