The United Fund of Surry campaign achieved 97 percent of its fundraising goal of $515,000, and hopes are high for reaching the top by the official close of the campaign at the end of this week.
An end-of-campaign celebration and awards dinner took place Monday night at First Baptist Church, with multiple awards handed out in recognition of those who helped to raise funds for the 26 local agencies served by United Fund, which has been in operation in this area for more than 50 years.
Ron Sutphin, board member and chairman for the next campaign, said in his speech at the end of the night that best sign of success was when chairman Steven McRae made his announcement of the goal and “the sun shined for the first time in three days.”
Sutphin was referring to the beam of sunlight that shined through the stained glass window as McRae announced to the room of campaign supporters that their efforts had helped United Fund to “top $500,000” and that he was hopeful they would surpass their goal by Friday.
For the individuals served by one or more of the agencies supported by the United Fund campaign, that beam of light represented a symbolic beacon in the night — a spark of hope for a better day.
Beth Pequeno, executive director of United Fund of Surry, said the goal is to “raise money for the agencies so they can continue to concentrate what they do best, help people, instead of concentrating so much effort on fundraising.”
This year’s campaign received 443 donations from new donors, which accounted for 9.6 percent of total campaign donations. Multiple businesses and organizations increased their giving, including several who had an increase of more than 100 percent: a 570-percent increase from Jones Intermediate School, 157-percent increase from Patterson Chrysler, First Presbyterian Church with an increase of 140 percent, and Mount Airy High School with an increase of 128 percent.
The annual campaign received contributions from individual donations, voluntary payroll deductions from area businesses, and proceeds from Downtown Rocks and Runs 5K and concert and the Greater Granite Open Golf Tournament.
End of Campaign Celebration and Awards Dinner
After a welcome by McRae and an invocation by Dr. Gregory Little, United Fund board member and superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, all board members were recognized.
The first award of the night, the past president award, was presented to Walter Broom by Emma Jean Tucker, first vice president of the board.
Pequeno introduced Phil Goble Jr., executive director of the Shepherd’s House, who gave praise to United Fund for their contributions to the Shepherd’s House, a 24-hour homeless shelter with an upcoming 10-year anniversary.
“Without United Fund we would not be open; they stepped up alongside us as a partner…we need to get out and let people know about United Fund and let everyone know that it has such an impact in our community,” remarked Goble.
As of February of this year, the Shepherd’s House helped more than 1,200 individuals with around 34,000 nights of shelter and more than 102,000 meals served, which Goble said they would not be able to do without the contributions from United Fund.
“We have been blessed by what they do for us — they ignite a firestorm in the community,” said Goble.
Allison Poteat, board member and chairperson for Downtown Rocks and Runs, was recognized for a successful fundraising event that McRae said doubled its proceeds this year. McRae said the annual golf tournament raised more than $12,000.
Cedar Ridge Elementary School was recognized for increasing its donations with creative fundraising ideas such as a 50/50 yard sale. Most who participated in the yard sale declined to collect their 50 percent proceeds; instead they donated the money back to United Fund. In addition, fundraising efforts were opened up to the classes and 100 percent took part in the campaign.
Three businesses recognized as Hometown Heroes had 100-percent employee participation and increased giving from last year, including BB&T Blue Ridge Burke, Rogers Realty and Surrey Bank and Trust. Mark Appler, M.D. and Workforce Carolina had 90- to 100-percent participation in fundraising efforts.
The Pat Woltz Way to Glow Award went to the employee campaign that demonstrated “the most creativity, participation, and commitment” to the community, and was given in memory of former board member and longtime United Fund supporter, Pat Woltz, as a “lasting tribute to her memory and contributions.”
Renfro Corporation received the Pat Woltz Way to Glow Award, with 72-percent employee participation, an 18.3-percent increase in giving from 2012, and the largest campaign contributions with $83,049.10, which represented 18 percent of the final total.
Dave Green, campaign coordinator and vice president of human resources for Renfro, accepted the award and said that it is for the “great employees” at Renfro. He also gave credit to the success of Renfro Corporation, who matched donations from each employee.
Green said that every year prizes are purchased to award to Renfro employees who contributed to the United Fund campaign, including cash prizes from $50 to $500, gift cards, $50 in gas, and a brand new iPad. They also held a double elimination cornhole tournament, which Green said was popular with their employees.
Upon receiving the award from McRae, the engraved glass slipped from its pedestal, and almost fell to the floor. The entire room gasped, but Green caught the award before it landed and held it up in triumph as a cheer rose from the audience.
Green’s final remarks included the message that “at the end of the day at Renfro, the true winners aren’t those employees who won the prizes we offered, the winners are those who are helped by one of the 26 United Fund member agencies.”
United Fund’s member agencies
Prior to the awards, United Fund member agency representatives were available to answer questions and many contributed displays describing their agency which were placed for those in attendance to browse.
Susan Rogers of the Salvation Army said the funds her agency receives from United Fund go to provide emergency assistance for local people in need throughout the year — help for fire victims, money for emergency food, clothing, medicine, utilities and more.
Rogers said the Salvation Army “would not be able to do what they do without the money received from United Fund.” “We truly value the partnership we have with them and it is a blessing for the people of this community.”
Brenda Holbrook of Meals on Wheels said the money it receives from United Fund is essential for the program to continue providing meals to the people of this county. Holbrook said the group named a local Meals on Wheels route after the agency as a show of appreciation for its support.
Pequeno, executive director of United Fund, said that the agency will continue to accept donations, which may be made by visiting the website at www.unitedfundofsurry.org and clicking on the donate button.
Reach Jessica Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1933.