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United Way merger in Southwest Virginia

Marci Gore • Aug 6, 2014 at 4:37 PM

United Way Virginia Highlands and United Way of Southwest Virginia have joined forces and will now operate as the United Way of Southwest Virginia. The regional service area will include Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise counties, as well as the cities of Galax and Norton.

Details of the merger were presented during a news conference Wednesday at the Gate City Municipal Building in Gate City, Va.

Alan Jones, Jr. is the board chairman of the United Way of Southwest Virginia, and senior vice president and controller of Alpha Natural Resources.

"We're very excited about this opportunity. Not only does this allow us to leverage resources more effectively but also we think the collective impact of working together will be much greater than if we continue to work individually," said Jones. "Moving forward, the United Way will continue in its mission to improve lives and strengthen communities here in southwest Virginia and, together, united, we think we'll make a much greater impact."

Travis Staton, President and CEO of the former United Way Virginia Highlands, will remain President and CEO of the merged organization.

"This merger is about amplifying United Way's mission," Staton said. "By coming together and sharing our talents and resources, we will be able to have a greater impact on those who need us most in our communities."

The merger was led by a team comprised of staff and board members of each United Way organization, who spent months working out details of the merger.

During the announcement on Wednesday, officials pointed out that the new organization will continue to focus on needs of local communities and will maintain a local presence.

"This merger of the United Way chapters will be great for our neighbors and families in Southwest Virginia. Adding the substantial resources and expertise of United Way Virginia Highlands while maintaining an employee and office in the Dickenson, Scott, Wise and Norton area, will allow our citizens to realize a much greater, overall positive community impact," said Dan Minahan, United Way of Southwest Virginia Board Member.

"For many years, the United Way of Southwest Virginia friends, affiliates, donors and board members have been able to aid our local United Way agencies through fundraising and collaboration across our three-county, one-city area. Now, our footprint is growing. Combining this local volunteer base with the resources of United Way Virginia Highlands will allow us to prosper and grow our volunteerism, and giving throughout the region."

Officials said the fundamental activities within each community, such as local fundraising and allocation will remain unchanged. Money raised locally will continue to be applied locally, as will allocation decision-making. Volunteers in each locality will determine where funding should be invested, based upon the priority needs of each community.

Non-profit organizations wishing to learn more about United Way of Southwest Virginia are encouraged to attend a community learning session set for 10 a.m., Aug. 21 at Norton Community Hospital.

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