United Way celebrates more than $1.3 million raised for nonprofit services

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jan 30, 2020 at 10:05 PM

The United Way of Washington County has completed its 2019 fundraising campaign with $1,362,588 in contributions pledged, or just over 90 percent of the campaign’s $1.5 million goal.

Campaign Chairwoman Jen Owen announced the total at Thursday’s celebration of last year’s campaign. The event was held at Grace Meadows Farm of Jonesborough.

In addition to the funds raised for 21 nonprofit service agencies and 35 agency programs, Owen said the past year’s successes also included $126,039 in in-kind donations, $14,671 in sponsorship gifts and $127,011 in grants received for the work of the United Way and its direct service programs.

She emphasized that more than 78,000 people, or approximately half the population of Washington County, were impacted by the services provided by the United Way’s partner agencies.

Owen noted the impact of the United Way’s award-winning virtual volunteer reading program implemented in Washington County and Johnson City elementary schools and the engagement of hundreds of women and young professionals in the United Way’s new leadership organizations.

Thursday night’s celebration also included the passing of the gavel from outgoing United Way Board Chairman Keith Johnson, vice president for Equity and Inclusion at East Tennessee State University, to 2020 Board Chairwoman Donna Depew, a retired Red Cross director.

Both Johnson and Depew spoke about a significant decline in United Way giving that has occurred both locally and nationally and the challenges to be faced as the United Way continues its fundraising work for nonprofit services.

Johnson said the numbers show the need for the United Way to figure out how to help the agencies keep their doors open. And Depew said, “Looking at the past year’s results, it is clear to everyone there will be challenges ahead.”

Johnson City Schools Superintendent Steve Barnett was the keynote speaker at Thursday’s celebration. Barnett spoke about the value of several United Way partner agency programs that directly impact the school system’s students and parents, including several after-school organizations and the school system’s shoe fund and homeless education programs. “Your contributions are well spent,” Barnett said.

Owen expressed thanks to the United Way board, staff, Strategic Campaign Committee, partner agency directors and contributors for the privilege of working with them. “I’ve learned a lot,” she said.

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