United Way at 16 percent of goal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The Rowan County United Way has raised about 16 percent of its $1.6 million goal in the first three weeks of its annual fundraising campaign.
Campaign Chairman Steve Fisher said more than $257,000 has already been pledged to help fund the nonprofit’s 16 agencies.
Fisher, president of F&M Bank, urged community members during the first report meeting Wednesday to continue rallying support for the campaign.
“Anything you can do to preach the word of the United Way we would certainly appreciate,” he said.
Fisher said with state and federal budget cuts, grant funding down and fundraising levels dropping, the agencies need help now more than ever.
“There is a tremendous need … please share that with everyone you know,” he said.
“Lights, Caring, Action,” the theme of this year’s campaign, was on full display Wednesday as United Way backers arrived at Ben Mynatt Nissan for the meeting. They were greeted by paparazzi before being introduced to all the “stars.”
“Each week we are going to highlight different stars,” said Penny Greer-Link, United Way’s vice president of planning. “We want to be positive about the good things that are happening and we want people to know what you are doing.”
Knox Middle School, Salisbury High, Koontz Elementary, the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s Ellis Street office, BB&T, F&M Bank, Norandal, Salisbury Housing Authority, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center and Communities In Schools were deemed stars this week.
BB&T President Tony Shaw said his group has surpassed its goal.
“We’ve had a great campaign within our office. We increased over what we did last year significantly,” he said. “Part of BB&T’s mission is helping to make the communities in which we live and work a better place to be and I can’t think of a better way of living that mission than to be part of the United Way.”
Principal Rick Dunlap said Koontz has nearly doubled its fundraising from last year with more than $3,000.
F&M Bank has already raised $52,000.
Vicky Slusser, executive director of Communities in Schools, said although her staff is working fewer hours this year due to budget cuts, the group still pitched in for an 80 percent increase over last year.
Paul Fisher of F&M Bank said the Communities In Schools staff has the right idea.
“Times are tough, people need you,” he said. “I ran into a man this past week who said ‘I’m not going to ask my employees about it, I’m going to pass it out and let them do what they can.’ ”
Paul Fisher said that’s not the right attitude.
“Even hurting people can give to other hurting people; it’s neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “They’ll give, whether it’s a dollar or $10.”
Although the United Way has fallen short of its fundraising goals the past two years, organizers are hoping to build momentum to reach the $1.6 million mark this year.
“The buzz of this campaign is about as high as I can remember,” United Way President Guy Hoskins said. “I’m very excited about this year.”
During the meeting, Fisher drew names for the annual car giveaway.
Cathy Cress, a bus driver with the Rowan-Salisbury School System; Jeff Holshouser, program manager for Salisbury Parks & Recreation; and Dr. Judy Grissom, superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System, are the first of 12 finalists.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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