United Way three-fourths of way to campaign goal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2023

SALISBURY — “I am a former foster child. I am a broken little girl. I am someone who had no hope,” says Rowan County resident, Dystanie Richard, who tearfully shared her testimony at United Way’s fourth campaign report meeting on Wednesday.

“I was adopted by a beautiful family, but I only got that for eight years. My adopted mother died and I turned to drugs and criminal activity. I was a hurt person.”

After serving nearly three years in prison on drug-related charges, Richard returned home and thought she had recovered. However, she quickly relapsed in an attempt to escape the pain she was still experiencing. She brushed off her brother’s suggestions for rehab, knowing that she most likely would not be accepted due to her criminal background and inability to afford treatment. Two days later, she was forced to leave her godmother’s home after it was discovered that she had relapsed again. Richard finally took up her brother’s offer to find rehab.

“By the grace of God, I was accepted into Capstone Recovery Center,” says Richard. The organization, which serves as a free, faith-based, residential rehabilitation center for women, is one of 21 programs that receive funding from Rowan County United Way. Richard later graduated from the program and was able to restore her faith, gain her sobriety and obtain her GED. She now has her driver’s license back and has a bright future at Capstone where will she soon join as a full-time employee.

“I am just one of the faces that represent the lives you change, so thank you,” Richard said.

Rowan County United Way has made it nearly three-fourths of the way to its $1.2 million campaign goal at 71.5 percent, according to Campaign Chair Stephen Bullock. This was announced at the organization’s report meeting hosted by Cloninger Automotive Group at Cloninger Toyota on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

People who give $78 or more to the campaign can enter into United Way’s auto giveaway, which gives individuals a chance to win $25,000 towards a new vehicle. Four local car dealers — Team Auto Group, Randy Marion, Cloninger Ford Toyota, and Ben Mynatt Nissan — are supporting the incentive.

Coming from an underprivileged home, Dillon Brewer, sales consultant at Cloninger Toyota, also shared how his family received services from programs funded by United Way.

“This is why I am very passionate about supporting United Way and we are appreciative to be a part of this,” Brewer said. 

At each of the four report meetings, three finalists are drawn. The campaign finale event will feature a drawing of the 12 finalists and the selection of a winner. The last round of names were drawn to be in the running: Jerry Putnam from Innospec, Mark Bradburn from city of Salisbury, and Kim Starnes from China Grove Elementary School.

Volunteers in the Campaign Cabinet provided updates on how campaigns are going within the divisions they oversee:

  • Jonathan Williams, presidents: 45 percent, $58,435
  • Greg Anderson, chairmans: 83 percent, $141,286
  • Greg Anderson, industrial 1: 57 percent, $43,476
  • Audrey Eudy, industrial 2: 65 percent, $26,376
  • Miriam Ramirez, nonprofits: 80 percent, $25,528
  • John Struzick, commercial 1: 56 percent, $24,621
  • Rhonda Martin, commercial 2: 88 percent, $56,868
  • Elia Gegorek, commercial 3: 75 percent, $37,838
  • Kaisha Brown, Rodney Harrison; public employees: 81 percent, $81,887
  • Carol Ann Houpe, education: 75 percent, $102,066
  • John Drye, community business: 81 percent, $13,942
  • Kevin Auten, special gifts: 99 percent, $138,123
  • Gary Blabon, Graham Corriher, Steve Yang; professionals: 62 percent, $61,852
  • Miscellaneous: 46 percent, $45,221

David Post is overseeing Leadership Giving, which currently includes 197 individuals from the various divisions who have given at the leadership level. Together they have produced $402,282 out of the total raised so far.

The United Way will celebrate its campaign finale on Friday, Nov. 17, at noon at F&M Trolley Barn. At this event, lunch will be provided and the winner of the auto giveaway will be drawn from the 12 finalists.

In 2022, 73,673 individuals were served by 19 programs funded by Rowan County United Way. The organization also funds the local NC 211, which made 1,968 referrals to Rowan County Health Human Service agencies last year.

For more information about this year’s United Way campaign or to make a gift, call 704-633-1802 or go to www.rowanunitedway.org.