Last updated: April 18. 2014 4:40PM - 820 Views
By Jessica Johnson jessicajohnson@civitasmedia.com

United Fund of Surry member agency representatives gather outside First Presbyterian Church on Thursday afternoon after the member luncheon.
United Fund of Surry member agency representatives gather outside First Presbyterian Church on Thursday afternoon after the member luncheon.
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On Thursday afternoon, the Fellowship Hall at First Presbyterian Church was full of individuals who work to improve the lives of those in the community on a daily basis. The occasion was the United Fund of Surry Agency Luncheon, a wrap-up for the previous campaign season, which reached 90 percent of its $515,000 goal.

While bringing in that much money for local human service agencies is something to celebrate, falling short of the goal does have reprecussions in the community. Pequeno said she regretted sending out letters to member agencies, informing them that the allotments for this year would be lower than expected.

“It was very hard for us to do, and we missed our goal for three years, which means we have not been able to replenish our reserves,” Pequeno explained. “It was very painful for us to write and send out those letters, but we are going to switch some things up with our campaign this year, and will be reducing the goal for the next campaign.”

The United Fund of Surry website received 698 visits from across Surry County this year. Pequeno announced at the luncheon that the website would be redesigned this year by a Surry Community College design student who is nearing graduation. She added that she would include a page on the website announcing volunteer opportunities within member agencies, since individuals and groups looking for volunteer opportunities often contact her throughout the year.

District Director for Boy Scouts of America’s Old Hickory Council, Kevin Cheek, said that he is grateful to United Fund for providing a way to support local youth by sending boys to camp at Raven Knob each year, as well as provide training opportunities at no cost for their leadership.

“Without United Fund, it would be very difficult for us to provide funding and give every scout the opportunities we provide to them,” Cheek shared.

Phil Goble, executive director of The Shephard’s House, a 24-hour homeless shelter in Mount Airy, said “United Fund is a wonderful organization that helps not just us, but many, and we are very grateful for that help. They are a huge supporter of The Shephard’s House and we value our partnership with them, which helps us help people in need.”

During the next campaign season, Pequeno said United Fund officials hope to add more business participation, including businesses from outside Surry County who would earmark their paycheck contributions to go back United Fund of Surry.

This year, Pequeno announced there would be two golf tournaments — one on Aug. 21 sponsored by Workforce Carolina and another held by Surry Yadkin Electric Membership Corp. Downtown Rocks and Runs will be held on Aug. 16, with an earlier start time this year.

The campaign chair this year is Peter Pequeno, senior vice president/chief lending officer of Surrey Bank & Trust.

One way United Fund of Surry releases information about its member agencies is through the 2-1-1 service, which it has funded since 2010. Citizens can dial 2-1-1 or visit www.nc211.org to receive assistance and information about resources in the community. Pequeno reminded those in attendance at the luncheon to review their 2-1-1 information on a yearly basis in order to assure citizens were receiving the most up-to-date information. She also shared that agencies and groups that provide services, such as church food banks, are also able to join the 2-1-1 system — it is not just limited to United Fund member agencies.

A total of 964 Surry County residents used the 2-1-1 system in 2013 and Pequeno said 70 percent of callers were looking for help with basic needs, such as food assistance, with utility service payment assistance making up 33.24 percent of the basic need calls, with 14.23 percent looking for assistance from food pantry. Pequeno added that translators were available for many different languages.

Surry County has 35 agencies using the system and around 900 service listings.

“United Fund feels it is extremely important for Surry County residents have access to this database so they can get the help they need 24/7,” explained Pequeno.

United Fund of Surry Agencies and Organizations

Each of the 26 United Fund member agencies are reviewed annually by the board members to ensure donations are being used in the best way possible, Pequeno assured.

Donors are able to designate their donation to go to a specific member agency, or they may be earmarked for one area, such as crisis, seniors, family and youth, or medical.

Crisis member agencies include:

- American Red Cross

- The Salvation Army

- Shepherd’s House

- Yokefellow Ministries

- Surry Domestic Violence

Senior member agencies include:

- Surry Senior Center/Pilot Mountain Senior Center

- Meals on Wheels

- Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

- Webb Southern Carroll Community Center

Medical member agencies include:

- Surry Medical Ministries

- Mountain Valley Hospice

- Rescue Squads, including Ararat Rescue Squad, Dobson Rescue Squad, Blue Ridge Rescue Squad, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, and Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad

Family and Youth member agencies include:

- Armfield School Age Care

- Charles Stone Library Reading Program

- Surry Friends of Youth

- Reeves Community Center Foundation

- The Gallery Group

- Surry Arts Council Special Needs Program

- Surry SCAN

- Children’s Center of Surry

- Boy Scouts of America, Old Hickory Council

- Girl Scouts, Carolina Peaks to Piedmont

Full descriptions of the 26 United Fund of Surry member agencies are available online at unitedfundofsurry.org. Donations may be made through the website or mailed to PO Box 409; Mount Airy, NC 27030. Call 789-3087 for more information.

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