United Way looks to 2016

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The 2016 campaign kickoff may still be months away, but the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way is already gearing up for its next fundraising season.

The agency hosted a Partner Agency Review Monday afternoon to give the 10 agencies supported by the Elizabethton United Way a chance to introduce themselves to the community.  The United Way also announced its theme for the next campaign year.

“We have never before held a pre-kickoff meeting like this,” United Way President Candy Craig said. “We are so glad to take the opportunity to introduce our agencies to the community and to get everyone fired up about the next campaign. Our kickoff is in September so we are ready to get a jump on it and get motivated.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The theme for the 2016 campaign is “Empowering Care in the Community,” which Craig said hit on all the areas the United Way wants to focus on when serving others.

“Every agency we have empowers their clients in some way,” Craig said. “Our agencies provide care in the community.”

United Way Director Cheri Tinney shared information on some of the new programs she will be introducing in the next few months. The United Way will be working with Red Legacy, the city of Elizabethton and the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library to offer financial independence workshops.

One series of workshops will be held specifically for Red Legacy clients and another series of workshops will be held for the general public at the library.

“These workshops will focus on how to make a budget, how to manage your money and make good financial decisions,” Tinney said.

The United Way will also be working with Milligan College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to offer tax preparation aid throughout the community.

“What we are hearing is that the smaller communities do not have the assistance they need,” Tinney said. “Less than 30 percent of the families in Carter County have a computer in their homes, which means they can’t access online assistance.”

The United Way and Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton joined together to offer the Reality Store, a tool to teach teenagers about good money decisions. Teens were given a job with a set pay scale. They then had to budget their money to purchase necessities.

Another possible new program is Live United Mini Grants. These grants would be distributed to agencies with needs in the community but that did not qualify for United Way funding, Tinney said.

Even with the positive focus, there was some mention that the United Way failed to meet 100 percent of the campaign goal for the past year. Craig pointed out that other regional United Ways had meet their goals which were higher than the goals Carter County set.

“Do we need to instill more caring in our community,” she asked. “Our neighbors raise millions to give back to their agencies and their people in their communities.”

The 2015 campaign ended at $149,000, which was $11,000 short of the $160,000 goal. Even with the shortfall, Craig was pleased with the outcome of the 2015 campaign.

“We thought it was going to be much worse,” she said. “We had a large hit of around $8,000 in pledges that were not received. The community rallied together and made it happen.”