"A lot of people get confused because you don't really know exactly what your results were of the previous year until all the pledges that everybody did [come] in," said Brenda Morehouse, president for the United Way of Bartow County. "So we always hold in March of that year a celebration of the previous year's accomplishments. So it's a way to pass out the annual report, let people know how much money we've raised, honor people that were involved.
"[It is] an opportunity for the current chairperson -- because after this meeting they move on and a new chairperson comes in -- to ... get up and say what their experience was like this past year. It's an opportunity to recognize all of our agencies, to recognize our volunteers, recognize all of our major donors that have helped out with our campaigns -- the big companies in town that do most of all the work."
Despite the economic downturn, the United Way campaign met its goal of garnering $575,000, raising funds primarily through payroll deduction. This fundraising method enables employees to donate a minimal amount yearlong, with a portion of their paycheck designated to the United Way.
Each year, funds that are raised through the United Way campaigns are dispersed, based on need, to its partner agencies. In attendance at Tuesday's meeting were representatives from United Way's 15 organizations for 2011: 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 and Advocates for Children. The nonprofits provide services to more than 60,000 area residents each year.
In her address, 2010 United Way Board Chairman Rhonda Ryan applauded the nonprofits for their efforts to make a difference in Bartow County.
"This is my fifth year on the United Way [board] and I don't know if y'all can tell but I'm excited about the United Way," Ryan told the crowd. "Are y'all excited about United Way? But look, when I first joined up -- like I said -- I didn't understand the need.
"Always in the past I would say, 'It could be your neighbor. It could be your coworker. It could be your church member sitting next to you on the pew that a United Way agency helps.' But let me just tell you, in 2010, it was my neighbor. It was my coworker that they stepped up and helped. I'm very passionate about United Way. But it was those [who were helped] and those people have a testimony now to get other people involved."
Ryan also listed various 2010 United Way accomplishments, including helping distribute $878,505 in mortgage and utility assistance to residents of Bartow, Floyd, Gordon and Paulding counties; and featuring more participation at special events, such as the Turkey Trot that drew 480 people, compared to 297 in 2009.
During the meeting -- held at Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce -- accolades were presented to some of United Way's top supporters. For their contributions to United Way agencies and events, Michael Ball received the Matthew D. Hill Volunteer of the Year Award and Regan Quarles, who was not in attendance, was named the Teen Volunteer of the Year. The Pinnacle Award was presented to United Way Ambassadors from Shaw Inc.'s plants 11, 12, 13, 15 and 62.
"We had an outstanding 2010, and we actually used a different campaign strategy," said Ryan, quality manager for Shaw's Plant 13, prior to the meeting. "What we utilized is a team approach where you have a team of people in a facility, let's say at Plant 13 at Shaw. You had a team leader. They went out and recruited their team members. Those team members would then go to the agencies and visit like three agencies. So it's a four-win situation. You've got a win for the associates that's going out there because they see how their dollar is being spent and see what's going on. You've got a win for United Way because it's awareness for United Way, plus it helps with the campaign because they come back and tell their peers what's going on. It's a win for our agencies to get more people involved in general and then awareness in the community as a whole.
"So it's just a tremendous approach and we're definitely going to use that same approach next year. It had a huge impact in our campaign this past year. Because it's not just me standing up there, me and a plant manager, saying, 'You should give, you should give.' No, it's your peers and [they are saying], 'Here's why you should give.' ... We actually had people tear up in our meetings because of what our agencies do. They had no idea what was going on in our community."