The United Way of Washington County kicked off its 2012 fall fundraising campaign for 17 area service agencies Thursday with 26 percent of its $1.775 million goal already pledged by contributors at nearly three dozen local companies and organizations that conducted their United Way drives early to start the campaign off at a good pace.
Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge began the kickoff meeting with the presentation of a joint proclamation from the county, the city of Johnson City and the town of Jonesborough that acknowledges the United Way for facilitating services to meet community needs. Eldridge then announced that, outside the campaign, the United Way will serve as a clearing house for financial donations to help flood victims in Washington County rebuild their homes.
“It’s not ironic that the proclamation speaks about the United Way’s desire to see needs met because, yesterday, the United Way stepped up to help a lot of people who were impacted by the flood,” Eldridge said. “We have (more than) 50 homes destroyed. And we have many volunteers. But until yesterday, a way to forward donations to help with the rebuild was the one area we did not have. This will be a resource for us to take donations and make sure the volunteers have materials to work with.”
Eldridge told the Johnson City Press after the meeting his office will release information today on how to direct donations for the rebuilding efforts along with new information on emergency loans for homeowners impacted by the flood.
Campaign Chairman Tim Swecker announced that, as of lunchtime on Thursday, the campaign had collected $459,314, or approximately 26 percent of its 2012 goal, from employees and members of 35 “campaign pace setter” companies and organizations.
As they work to gather the remaining 74 percent, Swecker, who has selected Give From Your Heart” ask the campaign’s theme, asked the campaign team members to “try to put yourselves in the shoes in the person who has an emergency.
“Think about the person. People who are in times of crisis and do not have a place to go,” he said.
In a brief report on the need for the services of the 17 nonprofit programs the campaign supports, Swecker said, “5,484 lives were impacted by the United Way in the past month” through its financial support for the services the agencies provide. Personal Support Services, a First Tennessee Human Resource Agency program that provides in-home assistance to seniors at risk nursing home placement, has had an 11 percent increase in case load. Fifty-four Washington County families have lost their homes. And many others have been impacted by flood damage.
“We’ve got three tough months coming up,” Swecker said. To meet the campaign goal, “we’ve just got to stay out there. Have patience. And stay at it.”
The campaign will move into full swing this weekend with its first community awareness event. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, United Way information tables will be set up and volunteers will be collecting donations at the front doors of area retailers including Walmart, Food Lion, Kroger, IGA food stores, Ingles and The Mall at Johnson City. “Please sign up,” Swecker said.
Donations will go to services provided by Adult Day Services, the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee, The ARC of Washington County, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County/Johnson City, the local councils of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Coalition for Kids, Contract Ministries, Frontier Health’s Adventure Program and Greenwood Challenge, Girls Inc. of Johnson City/Washington County, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Johnson City, the Johnson City Schools Shoe Fund, Keystone Dental Care, Personal Support Services, the Salvation Army of Johnson City, the Washington County Schools Food, Shoe and Clothing Fund and the Volunteer Center.
For more information about the campaign, including how to contribute and opportunities for agency tours and presentations, call the United Way office at 282-5682 or visit www.unitedwayofwashingtoncountytn.org.