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Rowan United Way kicks off campaign, ups goal by 3 percent

SALISBURY — With a county fair backdrop featuring milking, shucking, harvesting, pie-baking and entertainment from Minnie Pearl, the Rowan County United Way kicked off its 2014-2015 campaign Friday to raise $1,879,750.
The goal represents a 3 percent increase over last year’s successful drive. Friday’s event was held at the Hurley Family YMCA.
Greg Dunn, chairman of this year’s campaign, said the 15 agencies which are supported by United Way represent a total of 812 years of service in Rowan County.
Last year’s theme or campaign motto was “Raised Here. Stays Here.” This year it will be “Raised Here. Stays Here. Shared Here.”
The 15 local agencies which depend on United Way funding include the American Red Cross, The Arc Rowan, Boy Scouts, Communities in Schools, Families First, Family Crisis Council, Literacy Council, Meals on Wheels, Rowan Rescue Squad, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, Salvation Army, Trinity Living Center, Vocational Opportunities, Youth Services Bureau and the Hurley Family YMCA.
Rowan County has a population of roughly 140,000, and 73,000 people used the services supported by United Way last year, Dunn said.
Once again during the campaign, people making their United Way contributions will have a chance to win a new car, donated by the participating dealerships of Ben Mynatt Nissan, Cloninger Ford-Toyota, the Gerry Wood Auto Group or Team Chevrolet.
While the campaign is serious business, the kickoff luncheon had its moments of hilarity, thanks to Becky Lippard’s take on Minnie Pearl and the milking, picking and shucking competitions between a farmer (Dunn in overalls) and a merchant (F&M Bank’s Steve Fisher).
Lippard — er, Minnie Pearl — said someone must have put her pacemaker in backwards because “When I was kissing Howard Platt, my garage door came down.”
Platt, sports director for WSTP, joined station general manager Mike Magnan in giving the play-by-play for the spirited competitions between Dunn and Fisher.
The men milked fake cows, raced to pick apples and place them in straw baskets and shucked six ears of corn each.
When he didn’t fare well in any of the contests, Dunn asked whether there could be age-group winners instead.
The kickoff luncheon also held its first Dough Duel.
Five agencies — The ARC Rowan, Communities in Schools, Meals on Wheels, YMCA and Youth Services Bureau — baked apple pies for the contest.
Judges were D’Andrea Lawson, executive chef for Divine Appetit Co.; Jeanie Moore, a retired administrator at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College; and John Struzick, a cost accountant for Innospec.
In the end, Meals on Wheels took home the Dough Duel trophy.
Ester Marsh, health and fitness director for the Y, literally kicked off the luncheon Friday by punting stuffed footballs from the stage into the crowd.
Dunn introduced members of his 2014-15 Campaign Cabinet.
They include Jeannie Sherrill of Families First, agency liaison; Michelle Patterson of Patterson Farms, public relations; Penny Greer-Link of the Hefner VA Medical Center, vice chairman; Henry Diggs, pastor, training; Miriam Basso of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, diversity; Marcie Puckett of Freightliner, Presidents Division; Rick Parker of Novant, Chairman’s; Melonie Thompson of Salisbury Police Department, Industrial 1; Shane Wolford of Bank of North Carolina, Industrial 2; Tori Lowe of SunTrust, Commercial 1; Guy Hoskins of F&M, Commercial 2; Bonnie Vanderelst of Wells Fargo, Commercial 3; Jim Behmer of the city of Salisbury, Public Employees; Jeanie Moore, retired, Education; Dunn, retired, Community Business and Special Gifts; Brian Miller of BB&T, Professionals; and Seth Waller and James Taylor, Agri/Business.
In addition to Patterson, the United Way’s public relations committee includes Jessica Gaskill Ijames, Averi Mauney, Mike Miller, Ronnie Smith and Nancy Wyrick.
Friday’s kickoff also followed a “Happy Hour” theme, and many of those attending went home with cardboard smiles attached to Popsicle sticks — smiles on a stick — because they are “happy givers” to the United Way.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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