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Rowan County United Way hits campaign goal

SALISBURY — After two hurricanes, a new executive director coming in and a campaign deadline extension, the Rowan County United Way surpassed its campaign goal of $1.6 million, raising $1,615,515 for 2018.

John Struzick, campaign chairman, said the agency was it was going to get to $1.6 million.

“Being able to make the goal is unbelievable,” Struzick said. “It was really kind of iffy even up to the last minute. Are we going to get there or not? Not getting there would mean the agencies not having the funds they needed.”

At a campaign report meeting Wednesday, representatives of Smart Start Rowan, one of the member agencies, spoke about the work they do in the community to provide books to kids 4 months to 5 years old with the Reach Out and Read program. 

Zach Strong, a nurse practitioner at Salisbury Pediatrics, said kids get a book to take home and read.

“It is incredible to see the kids’ face light up when you have a gift for them — a gift such as a book to make them excited about reading,” Strong said. “Obviously at that age, parents are able to read to their kids, show pictures to them and then, in turn, when they get a little bit older through grade school they’re hopefully able to read to their parents.”

Brandi Kimball, who has a 4-year-old and 6-month-old, said her older son has enjoyed the books he has received.

“Our nightly routine consists of a bedtime book,” Kimball said. “He used to try to bring me all of his books at once, but I’ve gotten it down to three a night now. If we’re short on time and try to skip the bedtime book, that’s a big no-no in our house. We’ve been receiving books from Salisbury Pediatrics for about four years now, and we love it. It makes me so happy to see my son get excited over something as simple as a book.”

Struzick reminded the audience the money donated goes to help Smart Start Rowan and other organizations in the community.

“Every day, the United Way, our theme, really speaks to who we are,” Struzick said. “Every day, our agencies are making life better for thousands of people in Rowan County. Every day, our United Way staff is working with our agencies and our citizens to make sure the necessary connections are made to get our people the services that they need.

“Every day, our Rowan County citizens are providing financial resources to pay for the health and human services provided by our agencies. Every day, businesses donating to charities and individuals coming together to care for the needs of our people. It’s more than just a theme or slogan. It truly is every day, the United Way.”

Jackie Harris, associate director of United Way, said without the leadership of Struzick and the community support, a successful campaign wouldn’t be possible.

“I personally would like to thank John Struzick for his leadership,” Harris said. “He put together a stellar Campaign Cabinet who worked very hard and never gave up. It is wonderful to have the support of companies and individuals who want to invest in our community. Our United Way has a commitment to making an impact on the quality of life in Rowan County, and meeting our goal will enable us to do that.” 

As Struzick thanked the community, he added a special note of gratitude to Zachary Group, which raised $68,000 for the campaign last week. Harris added her thanks.

“This year, we were so fortunate to have a new company join the campaign, Zachary Engineering,” Harris said. “They raised $68,000, and that really helped us out.”

Throughout the campaign report meetings,names have been drawn to give away a free car to a donor. At Wednesday’s finale, the free car went to Corey Lee of Supply One. Lee will be working with Team Chevrolet to pick out a vehicle.

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