Local United Way announces $130,000 goal for 2018 campaign

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, September 6, 2018

For the future of the region, the goal is to always stand united.

The United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County held their kickoff breakfast for the 2018 campaign Thursday morning at the Elizabethton Senior Center and announced this year’s fundraising goal is set at $130,000. It’s a lofty goal, according to Community Impact Coordinator Crystal Carter, but the work put in by the community over the past couple of years has not gone unnoticed by the public.

Over the past two years, the local United Way chapter has made some waves by hitting the announcement goal, something unaccomplished prior to 2016 and 2017. Carter added that she’s had other United Way groups from larger cities come in to learn about what this area is doing to accomplish their goals.

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But with limited resources and finances, Carter added the success comes from the community working together. Ranging from Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition, the public library and other partners, Carter said the amount of work put in wouldn’t be made possible without the support.

And that’s where the community comes in.

Donations are being accepted now by the United Way. Community members looking to get involved can donate in a variety of ways. Individuals can either call (423) 543-6975, visit the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County Facebook page or make donations to the office’s located within the South Hills community in Elizabethton.

The organization’s impact has been felt across the board, especially after last year’s cycle. Carter announced that the organization had 15 applications from local agencies seeking funding. From the $85,000, nearly all agencies were funded with excess money going to other projects.

Andrew McKeehan, local United Way president, added the excess funds from last year’s drive went to support the Happy Trails Park located in Hampton, a water bottle filler at Little Milligan and River’s Edge homeless shelter.

But the focus of Thursday was to promote this year’s initiative. This year’s theme is “United We Grow Our Community” and geared toward building up the community to make the area a vibrant place to stay for the upcoming generation of Carter Countians.

Carter said the initiative includes helping with the literacy of children within the region and help combat the opioid issues going on throughout the region.

And this year’s co-chairs of United Way are no strangers to giving back to the area. Sadie Whitehead, a recent Elizabethton High School graduate, was unable to attend but was busy during her senior year working with United Way and the EHS Bartleby Program. Fellow co-chair Jessica Bitner said her passion for United Way started at a young age after watching her father assist in rescue during the 1998 flood. Bitner is active with CCDP, the Carter County Community Advisory Board and the Elizabethton Arts & Cultural Alliance. Bitner is also the founder of One World Everybody Eats – Elizabethton, a nonprofit whose mission is to help address the issue of hunger in the local community.

With her activity in the community, joined by the United Way board, her co-chair and others, Bitner said she believes this year’s goal can be accomplished.

“We must have courage, dedication and teamwork,” she said about the upcoming season.

Another key recipient of United Way funding has been the Elizabethton Senior Center. Director Kathy Dula told attendees that United Way has helped the organization in more cases than one due to their work. United Way representatives also expressed their gratitude for the attendance of local leaders, including newly-elected Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett.