This year’s fund-raising goal is $3.75 million, an increase of $125,000 from last year and set as a tribute to the 125th anniversary of the United Way movement, originally founded as the Charity Organization Society by two ministers, a priest and a rabbi in Denver. The four wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of people in their community.
“That’s why it is so important that we meet or exceed the goal,” said John Perdue, the 2012 campaign chair. “The money we raise will go a long way in creating opportunities for everyone in our community to improve their quality of life.”
The United Way’s fund-raising campaign wraps up in early November. While the community aspect of the campaign kicked off Thursday, the pacesetter portion of the annual event kicked off last month. Pacesetters are local businesses and companies that raise funds for the United Way prior to the community campaign.
Perdue said seven of the 34 pacesetters have reported raising $312,000.
“Pacesetters set the stage and create the environment and atmosphere to make us successful,” Perdue said. “This makes us feel pretty good about our campaign.”
The 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, said the United Way will also be adding four new programs in 2013 — the Family Self-Sufficiency Program through Interfaith Hospitality Network, Equine Services for Heroes through Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Victims Services through the Children’s Advocacy Center, and the Hearing Aid Program through Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center.
The theme for this year’s campaign is “Give Hope A Hand,” a name drawn from the story about the Freedom Climb, an event that took place in January where 48 women from 10 countries sought to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Kimberly Bradley from Kingsport was one of those women and told her story to the United Way on Thursday. Bradley, the director of logistics and training at Crosspoint International Ministries, learned of the Freedom Climb during a lunch with a woman visiting from South Africa. Following the lunch, “something inside me stirred,” Bradley said.
Bradley agreed to the climb, along with a friend of hers, and then sought out to raise the $10,000 necessary to cover the cost of the trip and equipment. When she left in January, she had just had a baby 10 months prior. Ultimately, Bradley raised $32,000 for the climb.
“Our climb represented the struggle women and children face every day,” Bradley said. “You don’t have to climb a mountain to make a difference in your community. You make a difference every day for the things you do to help your fellow man.
“You give hope a hand when you give, advocate and volunteer.”
Perdue called Bradley’s story an inspirational kickoff for the United Way campaign.
“We’re off to a good start,” he said.