United Way launches 2008 campaign Friday
By Kathy Chaffin
This year’s Rowan County United Way campaign will kick off as part of Friday’s Family Night Out in downtown Salisbury.
Campaign Chairman Chuck Elliott said it should be an exciting night. Music will be provided by The Fabulous Kays, and special attractions will include a classic car show and a soapbox derby with corporate sponsors.
“Each of the companies has been invited to build a soapbox derby car,” Elliott said, “and they’re going to race down Main Street. I think there are a lot of them talking smack to each other about who’s going to win.”
Scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m., the kickoff will also feature a car bash fundraiser, during which people will pay a dollar for each hit with a mallet. In keeping with this year’s “We need YOU! $upport the Winning Ticket” election theme, the car will be plastered with campaign stickers.
There will also be activities for the kids, including inflatables, pony rides and games.
Downtown shops will remain open during the kickoff and Friday’s Family Night Out.
Elliott, chief executive officer of Rowan Regional Medical Center, said the goal for this year’s campaign has been lowered from last year’s $1,975,000 to $1,971,200.
“That was based on what’s going on with the economy,” he said, including higher gas prices and layoffs by Freightliner and other companies that support the United Way.
“We were trying to set a goal that certainly we felt we could reach, and one we knew that the agencies could utilize to take care of their clients,” Elliott said. Even during a year when people feel like they have less, “it’s so important that everybody continue to give to United Way.”
When times are hard, he said, the 16 agencies supported by the Rowan County United Way are called upon even more to help people in need. “There are so many unmet needs in our community,” Elliott said, including “people who have had situations in their lives that many times are not the result of their own doing.”
Rowan County has always pulled together to help others, he said. “That’s what United Way is all about. That’s why it has the term ‘united’ in it, because it brings people together to achieve a great purpose.”
Despite the current economic challenges, Elliott said he is confident the United Way will meet its goal and is hopeful it will even surpass it as it did last year, with a total of $2,035,000 raised.
“I’m excited and very, very humbled that I’m the chairman of the campaign this year,” Elliott said, “but the real worker and the real supporter is Jackie Harris.
“She is phenomenal in keeping everything organized, and a lot of the success of the campaign is based on her and all the volunteers throughout the community who come together and get this done.”
Harris, campaign and marketing director for the Rowan County United Way, said Elliott has put together a great team of volunteers. “I know they will be successful,” she said.
The United Way Day of Caring is scheduled for Sept. 11, a Thursday, with volunteers set to do community projects at 51 sites.
The weekly campaign report meetings, at which the Pacesetter companies will report their totals, will begin Oct. 1 and continue every Wednesday for five weeks.
Elliott said it’s too early to tell how the Pacesetter companies are doing, “but from what I can tell, there’s a lot of excitement and energy about this year’s campaign.”
The campaign grand finale will be held Nov. 6 at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, during which a drawing will be held to see which lucky contributor wins a new car. Salisbury’s five automotive dealerships ó Ben Mynatt Nissan, Cloninger Ford/Toyota/Scion, Gerry Wood Automotive, Salisbury Motor Company and Team Chevrolet/Cadillac ó are teaming up for the fourth year in a row to give away a new car.
This year’s United Way cabinet includes: David Treme, of the city of Salisbury, SWAT (new accounts); Dr. Jerry Chandler, of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Pacesetters; Dr. Alan King, of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Trainer; Tracey Castor, of Rowan Regional Medical Center, Day of Caring;
Penny Greer-Link, of Hefner VA Medical Center, Public Relations; Pat Stellute, of Performance Fibers, Presidents; Tammy Safrit, of Food Lion, Chairman’s; Dan Mikkelson, of the city of Salisbury, Industrial 1; Deb Young, of the city of Salisbury, Industrial 2;
Guy Hoskins, of F&M Bank, Commercial 1; Leigh Ellington, of Community One Bank, Commercial 2; Marie Leonard-Hartsel, of Wallace Realty, Commercial 3;
Phil Kirk, of Catawba College, Education; Leonard Wood, of the Rowan Health Department, Public Employees; Ray Paradowski, Special Gifts; John Pruitt, of Rowan Regional Medical Center, Professionals; Randy Hemann, of Downtown Salisbury, Community Business; and Ronnie Smith, Leadership Giving.