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Editorial – United Way leads the way

A lifeline for homeowners facing foreclosure. Tutoring for at-risk students entering high school. Care for people who suffer in pain because they can’t afford to see a doctor or dentist. Those are just a few of the ways last fall’s successful United Way campaign is helping the people of Rowan County this year.
United Way volunteers and supporters gathered for an annual membership meeting last week that highlighted what happens when people work together for good. By exceeding the $1.85 million goal and raising more than $2 million, United Way volunteers assured the 16 member agencies full funding of their requests for this year. A generous gift from Food Lion funded Community Impact Grants that go above and beyond routine funding. United Way leaders have even had the happy job of deciding how to allocate extra funds this year ó toward 2009 allocations and possibly a new agency on its roster.
Donors need to know that their gifts make a difference. It’s too bad every United Way supporter can’t follow the dollars as they filter out to people in the community through so many services ó for young and old, in times of growth and times of crisis.
Businesses play a pivotal role in this story, and those in Rowan County have faithfully supported United Way. In 2005, it was Freightliner’s decision to match the $278,000 its employees contributed that pushed the campaign to its goal. Most recently, Food Lion saved the day with a $278,643 contribution, up 278 percent from the previous year. But every year, hundreds of businesses help in smaller ways that make a great whole. They allow employees to volunteer time for the campaign, they make corporate gifts and they set aside time for employees to learn about and make donations to United Way.
This is the key to the Rowan County United Way’s success ó one campaign presented in a consistent way that people recognize and trust. They trust the co-workers leading the campaign, they trust the agencies who benefit and they trust the United Way organization behind it all.
Plant slowdowns and layoffs made United Way leaders cautious in setting last fall’s goal. Escalating talk of recession probably has them scared to death as they plan the next campaign. If enthusiasm for the cause is any kind of economic indicator, they have nothing to fear. Hundreds of volunteers and businesses are behind them, and thousands have a history of giving.

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