In the spirit of helping others, the three organizations once again are teaming up for the United Way of Bartow County, with Johnette Dawson, publisher of The Daily Tribune News, serving as the nonprofit's fundraising campaign chairwoman and Matt Santini, WBHF station manager, and Deanna Berry, Cartersville UNCUT executive editor, assisting as co-chairs.
"I didn't set out with the idea of being the chairperson," Dawson said. "I just wanted to be involved with the campaign and help make the community more aware of United Way and the role that it plays in our community and with the other nonprofits. But when Brenda [Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County] approached me about being a chair and working with Matt from WBHF and Deanna from Cartersville UNCUT, I realized there really is a need because a lot of people, No. 1, don't know that much about United Way and what they do. ... and I know the good that United Way does.
"During the storms back in April, I saw how fast Brenda and Cynthia [Ball] and all the volunteers hit the ground running and how hard they worked to do something for the community and try to be there for support and financial aid to the other nonprofits that were helping the community. To me, [donating to United Way is] just one of the best ways to give back to our community and to do so in a manner that reaches the most people."
Although no monetary goal has been set yet, the drive bearing the slogan "Dare to Dream, Join the Team, LIVE UNITED" starts Thursday and continues through Nov. 30. The campaign is primarily going to generate funds through payroll deductions, which enables employees to donate a minimal amount yearlong, with a portion of their paycheck designated to the United Way.
"We're just trying to reach as many businesses in Bartow County as we can," Morehouse said. "Basically what happens [with payroll deduction] is the HR departments work a campaign that allows employees to fill out a pledge card that will give them the opportunity to donate $2, $3, $5 out of their paycheck every week, so that it's an amount that they don't miss too much and they're able to afford. You figure an employee base of 110 at our local Publix will raise $39,000 ... so you can imagine that if you get people willing to give $5 a week -- a large amount of people -- [how] that sum's going to add up."
Funds raised through the campaign will be dispersed, based on need, to United Way's agencies, which Morehouse said includes AIDS Alliance of Northwest Georgia, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, Bartow County 4-H Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, Bartow Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross, Christian League for Battered Women, New Beginnings Food Outreach, The Salvation Army, Good Shepherd Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hickory Log Vocational School, North Bartow Community Services, Bartow Health Access, Advocates for Children, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
"If I had to say something to the different business owners or just the individuals in Bartow County, I've sat on the board of several different nonprofits over the course of the last few years and I know how important funding is to all of them and how difficult with government cutbacks and with communities' economic situations it is for them to meet their goals just to have enough money to keep their programs funded," said Dawson, who currently is a United Way board member and has previously served on the boards of two of its partner agencies: American Red Cross and the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter. "There's 15 or 16 different agencies that United Way supports, and I know from being on those other boards that the United Way funding is a vital part of their yearly budget.
"Without the money that they get from United Way, they either have to cut programs or perhaps we lose programs or lose services in the county. If people don't donate to United Way, then United Way doesn't have the money to give to the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter and to Advocates for Children and the Boys & Girls Clubs and all the different agencies that they do fund. And unlike some agencies -- and I don't know the operating budgets of all the nonprofits but -- I know with United Way 99 percent of money raised goes directly to the agencies that we support."
For more information about the United Way, call 770-386-1677 or visit www.bartowliveunited.org. As businesses contemplate or start offering payroll deduction to their employees, Morehouse welcomes their staff to tour or seek information about the United Way's partner agencies.