"We have a $125,000 increase in this year’s goal," said Ann Rhem, director of Resource Development for UWGK. "And when you have that kind of increase there’s always a great hope that the goal will be met."
Rhem believes that people want to give back to their home communities, and donating to the United Way provides a platform for that.
"Your dollars stay right here," she said, "to help your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your loved ones."
United Way strives to safeguard financial donations. The agencies whose programs are funded go through a rigorous process to become a member agency, according to Kandy Childress, director of Community Impact and Communications. Even after becoming a member agency, UWGK conducts site visits, evaluations and continual monitoring, including monthly compliance checks by Joe Fleming, UWGK finance director.
"You can be very confident that your donor dollars are being used wisely," Childress said.
United Way of Greater Kingsport supports 44 programs through 29 agencies, focusing on helping children and youth succeed, promoting self-sufficiency, ensuring safety and stability, and supporting aging with choices.
Danelle Glasscock, UWGK executive director, noted that "we also have four new programs we’ll be adding in 2013 that include the Family Self-Sufficiency Program through Interfaith Hospitality Network, Equine Services for Heroes through Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Victims Services through Children’s Advocacy Center and Hearing Aid Program through Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center."
"We’re local, we’re efficient, we’re accountable, and we’re an expert at what we do," Rhem said. "But without our volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do. Our volunteers are what help us to be so efficient."
Just a few months ago, during the Week of Caring in June, almost 1,000 volunteers spent anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days working on local United Way service projects. Those renovation and beautification projects benefitted such agencies as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., Small Miracles, Frontier Industries, Hope House, and Mountain Region Speech and Hearing. Aside from that week designated for volunteering, many locals also give of their time regularly by helping with literacy programs and with Meals On Wheels.
"It’s not just about the money," Childress said. "It’s the volunteerism and the advocating for these agencies. When people volunteer, they’re advocating."
"I’ve never seen a community that is as great as this one when it comes to the volunteer spirit," Rhem said.
Offices for UWGK are located at 301 Louis Street, Suite 201, in Kingsport. For more information on giving, call 423-378-3409 or visit the website at www.uwaykpt.org.