Catrina Alexander, New Board Member

The United Fund of Surry welcomes Catrina Alexander to the Board of Directors. Catrina and husband Mel reside Mount Airy and have two children, Jackson and Macy Smith. Catrina has lived in Mount Airy since graduating from Western Carolina University in 1991. She worked for Surry County from 1993-2005, until which time she became the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Mount Airy. In March of 2018, Mrs. Alexander became the Career Development Coordinator for Mount Airy City Schools and is excited to continue to serve students and families. She serves as the Foundation Chair for Surry Sunrise Rotary and on the planning committee for the NC Women’s LeadHership Conference. She was honored to receive the Greater of Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award for 2016.

Catrina has been a long time supporter of the United Fund through workplace campaigns held through the City of Mount Airy. In addition, she participated in the United Fund by representing the Reeves Community Foundation, one of the United Fund's 26 member agencies. In 2015-2016, Catrina served as the United Fund of Surry Campaign Chair and raised over $480,000. Catrina's knowledge of the community and diversity of experience with the United Fund will be a strong addition to the United Fund Board. 


United Fund exceeds $475,000 goal

Businesses have come and gone and workers have weathered numerous changes impacting the local economic landscape over the years, but one constant has been the desire to help one’s fellow man through the United Fund of Surry.

This certainly was the case with its 2017-2018 fundraising campaign, according to an announcement at a Wednesday awards luncheon of the organization.

“We have a great deal to celebrate this year,” United Fund Executive Director Merry Craig Boaz told about 120 people gathered in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church in Mount Airy.

The goal for the annual campaign was $475,000, which was 5.5 percent — or $25,000 — higher than the previous year. United Fund contributors responded with a total of slightly more than $490,000.

“It is the most we have raised in the last six years,” Boaz said of that figure. It was achieved with nearly $30,000 in donations during the final stages of the campaign, continuing a string of recent successes for the United Fund of Surry.

“I’m happy to say we’ve passed the goal for the third year,” Dale Draughn, 2018 president of the United Fund’s governing board, said during Wednesday’s luncheon.

“This is a day of celebration and recognition,” Draughn added regarding the lunchtime event’s purpose of savoring what has been accomplished and spotlighting those who helped make it possible.

All the money raised through the United Fund remains in the local area to provide vital financial support to 26 different member agencies serving the community, from rescue squads to a homeless shelter and scouting organizations, along with many others.

“To be a small county in rural North Carolina, we are tremendously blessed,” Boaz said of the array of organizations that aid people in need in many ways, which the United Fund has under its umbrella. “Our job is to support them.”

For the 2017-2018 fundraising effort, 35 workplace campaigns were initiated throughout the county, with 1,600-plus people participating in those, either through designating a portion of their paychecks or by making one-time gifts.

“The support that our workforce in Surry County provides for member agencies is astounding,” Boaz said. She mentioned that in some cases, those who have been aided by those agencies when down on their luck have given to the fund as a way of paying back.

“I’ve had donors who do not have an address or zip code in Surry County,” Boaz said. “They just work here.”

Special awards

Those attending Wednesday’s luncheon included representatives of agencies receiving support from the United Fund to maintain their operations, as well as campaign contributors. The latter includes business, school, municipal and county government, church and other entities.

• Special recognition was given Wednesday to the recipient of the Pat Woltz Way to Glow Award, named for a late local resident who was an artist and United Fund board member. That honor this year went to Altec Inc., which met the award’s criteria by mounting an employee campaign demonstrating the most creativity, participation and commitment to the community.

This resulting in a tripling of the number of employees participating and a 130 percent increase in their total pledges.

• Also presented was the Dave Green Achievement Award, established last year in honor of a longtime supporter of the United Fund who led a workplace campaign at Renfro Corp. for 15 years.

This year’s recipient of that award was Shelia Davis-Welker of Surrey Bank and Trust, who has led the campaigning there for the past 14 years which has helped generate more than $133,000 over that period. That has been achieved through efforts including organizing a Shred Day fundraiser along with a local Boy Scout troop.

• “Hometown Heroes” was another group receiving special recognition Wednesday, which includes businesses or organizations that achieved 100 percent employee participation in the United Fund and an increase in giving over last year.

They are BB&T Blue Ridge Burke, Surrey Bank and Trust, Rogers Realty and Auction Co., Carter Bank and Trust and Surry Friends of Youth.

• Chairman’s Choice awards went Wednesday to four recipients that mounted strong workplace campaigns, including BB&T Blue Ridge Burke, North Carolina Foam Industries, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation and Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. (YVEDDI).

Since 2004, when the United Fund started using its present tracking software, BB&T Blue Ridge Burke’s campaigning has raised more than $136,000 with an employee base averaging just 17. Those individuals have donated time as well as money.

In addition to employee contributions, the United Fund receives a substantial grant each year from North Carolina Foam Industries.

For the most recent campaign, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation pledged the highest amount of any city government department and holds two fundraisers each year to benefit the United Fund.

For its part, YVEDDI, an organization that provides programs for seniors, children, victims of domestic abuse and transportation services in the area, revamped its campaign for 2017-2018. This initiative that included allowing employees more giving options led to more than $4,500 being raised. 

United Fund making final push

In football terms, the latest United Fund of Surry campaign is inside the 10-yard line and needing only a few more yards to hit paydirt.

“The United Fund is nearing the end of our campaign,” a spokeswoman for the effort, Christina Plitt, announced in reference to a March 31 target date, “and is very close to meeting our goal.”

This year’s campaign objective is $475,000, which is 5.5 percent higher than last year.

“The goal was increased by $25,000,” United Fund Executive Director Merry Craig Boaz said Tuesday of the real-dollar figure involved.

All the money raised remains in the local area to provide vital financial support to 26 different member agencies serving the community, from rescue squads to scouting organizations and many others.

“The campaign goal was increased this year due to a rise in requests from our member agencies and projections by the (United Fund) board of directors that Surry County had the capacity to reach this goal,” Plitt added.

“We have met the goal for the past two years and felt that this was achievable, especially with continued support from our larger partners including Renfro, NCFI and Reynolds American.”

Industry support key

Despite the loftier sum involved, such donors have risen to the occasion in-kind, according to Boaz, who is serving her first year as United Fund executive director, the person who coordinates various donor networks leading toward the ultimate goal.

“Of course, being my inaugural year, I was quite nervous,” Boaz admitted Tuesday. But everything has come together well to this point.

“The most impressive thing for me was our industry,” Boaz said of support by area companies, some of which have aided the United Fund through decades of economic and other upheaval.

For the present fundraising effort, 35 workplace campaigns were held throughout the county, with 1,600-plus people participating in these campaigns either through designating a portion of their paychecks or by making one-time gifts.

The money given through these workplace efforts comprises 54 percent of the total amount raised through the campaign.

Corporate grants and gifts have totaled $157,000 (35 percent), and contributions from the public at large, about $53,000. The remainder has been generated through miscellaneous fundraising activities.

Boaz says the development of a new donor base in Pilot Mountain also has paid dividends.

At last report, the United Fund of Surry had achieved $472,429.

“This puts us at 99.5 percent of the total needed and only approximately $2,500 short of reaching our goal,” summed up Plitt.

Boaz said a late-hour push for individual or industrial donations is under way to get the campaign over the top.

Contributions can be made online at or mailed to P.O. Box 409, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.

Clear need

By reaching the campaign goal, the United Fund will be able to fully supply allocations to its 26 member agencies. “We are hoping that with one last appeal to the public, we will be able to ensure that happens,” Plitt emphasized.

The need for such support is evident, based on statistics showing the impact of the campaign in 2016:

• Programs aid by the United Fund of Surry helped more than 25,000 people in the county;

• The five rescue squads supported by the United Fund responded to 3,306 emergencies;

• Also, 1,265 uninsured patients received medical care and more than 9,000 prescriptions were filled;

• About 2,500 people were provided with counseling and mentoring services;

• Another 162 children and adults with disabilities participated in enrichment programs;

• A total of 84,280 meals were served;

• With housing an increasing concern, 446 children and adults were provided with a safe place to live;

• More than 1,300 seniors participated in support programs.

Robin Testerman of Children’s Center of Surry County said the United Fund makes a major difference for that organization.

“The Children’s Center provides services to our most vulnerable children and families and Surry United Fund provides funding that makes a difference and impacts lives on a daily basis,” Testerman said in a statement. “The dollars they raise go directly to the children we serve and make it possible for our kids to have a better future.”

This was echoed by Stephanie Tuttle of Surry Friends of Youth.

“The annual contribution from the United Fund of Surry allows Surry Friends of Youth to continue offering free services for children in the community,” Tuttle said in a statement. “The United Fund of Surry reaching their goal impacts Surry Friends of Youth’s ability to continue advocating the needs of youth through community service, supportive counseling and mentoring.”

10K Marks 10th Rocks and Runs

The United Fund of Surry’s annual fundraising campaign kicked off in impressive fashion on Saturday.

Saturday morning 237 runners, one more than in 2016, hit the streets of Mount Airy to take part in the United Fund’s Downtown Rocks and Runs event.

Merry Craig Boaz, executive director of the United Fund, said runners had what some might consider a special treat at this year’s Rocks and Runs. Her organization commemorated the race’s 10th year by adding a 10k event. In the past only a 5k was held.

For the past decade, the race has served as the kickoff event for the annual charity campaign. The United Fund reached its fundraising goal of $450,000 in 2015 and 2016.

Boaz noted her organization upped its expectations in 2017, however, setting a goal of $475,000.

Boaz said those funds are distributed to 26 member agencies, which include local food banks, the homeless shelter and number of area rescue squads. Many of those organizations sent volunteers to work the event on Saturday, performing roles such as handing out water to runners and controlling traffic.

With $125 cash prizes for the male and female winners of each race, Boaz mentioned the race attracted runners from as far away as California, Ohio and Indiana.

The $500, which made the cash prizes possible, was donated by Advanced Electronic Services, a company based on Riverside Drive in Mount Airy.

However, support for the event didn’t stop there. Boaz said about $17,000 in sponsorship dollars for the event was collected. With costs related to the event set at only a few thousand dollars (offset by the registration fees of the participants), Boaz expected the proceeds of Saturday’s event to surpass what was raised the year prior, about $18,000.

“We are very greatful for all of the support,” said Boaz. “This has been a great kickoff for our campaign.”

Though the most visible portion of Saturday’s event for Mount Airy-area residents took place on the streets of the city, Rocks and Runs also included a “rocks” event, too.

While runners were invited to attend a concert at Old North State Winery after the race in past year’s, this year Boaz decided to team with another organization to provide the music part of Saturday’s fundraiser.

Those who participated in the races received a $5 discount on a ticket to Reevesfest, a music festival which took place in Elkin on Saturday. Six bands were scheduled to play at the event.

“We thought it was a great way to involve the Elkin community,” explained Boaz.

While Saturday’s race may have been a nice start, the United Fund will have a long road to $475,000, and Dr. Amy DeVore and Julie Marion are chairing the campaign and leading the efforts to get there this year.

Both ran in Saturday’s race.

“It was wonderful,” said DeVore, who noted she believes the campaign is off to a great start.

“I’m really hopeful we will meet our goal,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the year will bring.”

“This town has always shown a lot of support for these organizations.”


Downtown Rocks and Runs adds 10K in Tenth Year

Andy Winemiller | The News 

For the 10th year, a running event will kick off the United Fund of Surry’s annual fundraising efforts.

On Saturday, the United Fund will host the 10th-Annual Downtown Rocks and Runs. In the past, the race has raised as much as $17,000 toward the United Fund’s fundraising campaign.

According to Merry Craig Boaz, the organization’s executive director, Rocks and Runs will celebrate its decade-long tradition by adding a 10k running event.

In the past only a 5k has been held.

Boaz said as of Monday afternoon about 150 runners from as far away as Ohio, Indiana and California had registered to run in one of the event’s two races. In 2016, the run drew 237 participants, and the United Fund is on pace to play host to more runners in 2017.

“Race registration is ahead of where it was at this time last year,” explained Boaz.

Boaz said she hopes many local residents will take advantage of the race and sign up this week or on race day.

Of course, there is also a “Rocks” portion of the event, and Boaz said something new is in store in that realm too.

In the past, Old North State Winery has played host to bands. Those who ran in the race also gained entry to the concert. However, this year, race participants will receive a discount on a ticket to Reevestock, a musical festival which will be held on Saturday in Elkin.

Boaz said the move is a great way to involve Elkin in the annual kick-off to the United Fund’s fundraising efforts.

Reevestock begins in 3 p.m. on Saturday, and the day’s lineup includes a half-dozen groups.

Registration fees are $30 for the 5k competition and $40 for the 10k. There are also team challenges. Those looking to register for the event may do so at the event website,, or on Saturday morning.

Race-day registration begins at 6:30 a.m. The 10k race begins at 7:45 a.m., and the 5k will kick off at 8 a.m. A kid’s fun-run is scheduled for 8:45 a.m., and awards will be handed out at 9 a.m.

Prizes such as bags and socks will go to top teams and runners. The top runners in each race will also receive cash prizes.

The race will begin and end on Main Street near the Post Office and Mount Airy City Hall. B-Dazzle Productions will be providing entertainment for participants and spectators.

Boaz said the United Fund provides funding to 26 member agencies ranging from local rescue squads to food banks. Many of those organizations will be on hand providing support for the event.

She noted Rocks and Runs is only the beginning of a long campaign to raise funds for those agencies. In the past two years, the United Fund has achieved its fundraising goal of $450,000, but this year the bar has been set at $475,000.


United Fund Celebrates Campaign

For the second year in a row, the United Fund of Surry met its annual fundraising goal.

In 2016 the organization met its goal for the first time since 2011, and in 2017 the United Fund once again has more than $450,000 to distribute to local charities.

“Having met the goal last year and with it being the 60th anniversary of the United Fund, there was some pressure,” explained Todd Tucker, who chaired the 2016-17 fundraising campaign. “We met and surpassed our goal.”

Tucker said it was a team effort. United Fund board members helped him reach out to the community to raise money, and many local entities stepped up to the plate with large donations. Many of those entities, which included local government workers, schools and businesses, raised more money in 2016-17 than they had the year prior.

In a subsequent interview, he commended the community which made meeting the goal possible.

“I am so amazed at the giving spirits of the companies which support the United Fund and their employees,” said Tucker. “We have some great corporate citizens and some great people who work for them in our community.”

Tucker added he finds it impressive that the United Fund is able to raise $450,000 in the greater Mount Airy area.

The United Fund recognized many of those key donors at a luncheon held at First Baptist Church in Mount Airy on Wednesday.

Rogers Realty and Auction, Carter Bank & Trust, BB&T and Surry Bank and Trust received a Truly Local Heroes Award. One hundred percent of the employees at each company donated to the campaign, and each organization also raised more money than in the year prior.

Tucker also gave an award to Altec Inc., which took part in the campaign for the first time. Employees at the company raised more than $16,000 for the cause. Another award went to Workforce Unlimited for having a long established United Fund campaign.

A new award was also handed out, and the award went to its namesake.

Tucker said Dave Green started working at Renfro Corp. in 2002, and he immediately took the reins of the company’s United Fund campaign. Under Green’s leadership, employees have contributed more than $700,000 to the United Fund. He has also been the United Fund fundraising campaign chair and has served as president of the organization’s board of directors.

Green, however, called his receiving the Dave Green Achievement Award a “gigantic mistake.”

“This should go to all of the people at Renfro who have donated,” added Green.

However, Tucker had an answer for Green. Renfro received the Pat Woltz Way to Glow Award.

Tucker said the workers at Renfro raised a little less than $47,000 toward the $450,000 goal. Renfro is irreplaceable in the Mount Airy community.

“This company does great work in the community, and they are a great asset to the community,” said Tucker.

The United Fund also celebrated new leadership and thanked old leadership at the outing. The torch was recently passed in two noteworthy positions.

Kristy Preston, who serves as the director of Surry County Social Services, has assumed the role of president of the United Fund board of directors. She replaces Ron Sutphin, who was recognized for his service.

Merry Craig Boaz recently took the helm as the organization’s executive director, replacing Christina Plitt, who had served in the position since 2015.

“I was new to Mount Airy, and nothing made it feel like home more than the United Fund,” said Plitt as she thanked those in attendance for the opportunity.

Plitt was recognized with a print, signed by board members, representatives from member agencies and others in attendance at the luncheon.

Boaz said she appreciates the opportunity to take over Plitt’s responsibilities.

“I had the privilege to grow up in Mount Airy, and now I have the privilege to serve the community in this position,” said Boaz, who now resides in Pilot Mountain

Northern Doctors Donate to United Fund

While doctors across the country will be honored with dinners, gifts or other tokens of appreciation this Doctors’ Day, the physicians at Northern Hospital of Surry County have decided to go against the grain.

National Doctors Day is an appreciation day held each year on March 30. This day was established to recognize physicians, their work and their contributions to society and the community, according to a written statement from Northern Hospital.

“It is a time where many doctors around the country are given thank you gifts such as jackets, umbrellas or executive pens,” the hospital said. “Over the years, Northern Hospital has recognized its community of physicians with appreciation dinners or gifts.

“This year, however, the physicians at Northern voted to forgo gifts or dinners and instead wanted to focus on giving back to the community. At a recent Medical Executive Committee, physician leaders agreed to make a donation to the United Fund of Surry in the amount of $2,650.

“We wanted to make a contribution that would benefit those who need it most, right here in the community where we live and work. Dinners and gifts are nice, sure, but do we really need them? We became doctors to serve and asking the hospital to make this monetary donation in our honor of our work is all the appreciation we need,” said Dr. Druery DeVore, chief of staff at Northern and physician at Northern OB-GYN.

“When our physicians made the recommendation of a donation in their honor, we were happy to oblige. The United Fund of Surry has served the needs of Surry County citizens for 60 years through its 26 local member agencies and we are very excited to support such a wonderful effort,” said Ned Hill, president and CEO at Northern.

“Northern Hospital would like to thank all of our local health care providers for their role in caring for the sick, advancing medical knowledge, and promoting good health,” said Hill.

“On behalf of the United Fund of Surry and the 26 agencies that it supports, we greatly appreciate this gift in honor of the physicians of Northern Hospital of Surry County. These physicians already serve our community 24 hours a day, seven days a week but yet they have chosen another opportunity to give back to the people of Surry County. This donation speaks volumes,” commented Merry Craig Boaz, United Fund director.

United Fund hopes for one last push

Mount Airy News February 6, 2017

In its 60th year in existence, the United Fund is hoping to reach its annual fundraising goal.

Todd Tucker, the United Fund’s fundraising chair, said the United Fund of Surry is nearing its $450,000 fundraising goal. He’s hoping a last-minute surge of contributions will push the organization to that goal.

“We are at at about 93 percent of our goal,” explained Tucker.

Christina Plitt, United Fund of Surry’s director, said the fund had raised $422,000 as of Monday, leaving it $28,000 shy of the goal, several weeks before the effort is scheduled to end

“We are trying to boost awareness to get some more donations,” remarked Tucker.

Tucker said he would like to see the organization meet the goal, given it is celebrating its 60th year in existence. The fund raises money for a “great cause.” In fact, it raises money for 26 great causes.

Tucker explained the United Fund supports 26 member agencies, all of which play an important role in the community. Those organizations range from local rescue squads to the Shepherd’s House, the homeless shelter in Mount Airy.

Any donations are tax detectable, added Tucker. More importantly, the dollars remain in Surry County to support organizations making a difference in the local community.

Furthermore, Tucker noted every dime a person donates to the United Fund is forwarded on to those local agencies. No contributions are used to fund the operations of the United Fund. The director of the organization’s salary and all operating expenses are paid by way of grants.

Tucker said on Monday he hopes the community will continue to give in order to push the United Fund to or above its goal. The annual campaign officially ends at the end of March.

“We have some great support in the community,” explained Tucker. “We are just hoping to get this last little push.”

If the fund does reach its goal, it will be the second consecutive year it has done so, explained Plitt. The four years prior to that, the United Fund fell short.

“If we don’t make it, we have to cut what we give to our member agencies,” remarked the director. “I don’t want to have to make those phone calls.”

“I’m optimistic we will make it, but we are pulling out all the stops,” said Plitt.

Jones staff shines in fundraising efforts

By Andy Winemiller -

Staff at Jones Intermediate School outperformed their colleagues in the school district competition, raising more than $1,500 for the United Fund.

Staff members were treated to a luncheon for their efforts, courtesy of the Mount Airy City Schools central office.

Members of faculty and staff from throughout the school district took part in helping the United Fund of Surry in its current fundraising campaign.

Christina Plitt, the fund’s executive director, said United Fund’s attempts to raise $450,000 began in August and will conclude in March. As of Friday, the fund had raised about $405,000.

Plitt said the donation of the school district’s staff exceeded that of the year prior, which was about $3,800. The contribution from Jones was an especially impressive feat since the donation is more than double what the staff members at the school were able to raise in the 2015-2016 fundraising year.

“I think the people who work in our schools are already giving back to the community, so it’s impressive that they are so giving to these charities,” said Plitt.

Carrie Venable, the school district’s public information officer, noted staff at Jones raised $1,550 toward the district’s contribution to the United Fund. The amount exceeded the goal set by staff members at that school by more than $300.

The members of the Mount Airy Board of Education served the staff at Jones their much-deserved lunch from 13 Bones on Friday, according to Venable.

Mount Airy Schools superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison indicated she was proud of the district’s faculty and staff.

“We are very proud of all of the Mount Airy City Schools staff for their increase over last year in giving to the United Fund,” remarked Morrison. “We are especially proud of Jones Intermediate which had a large percentage of their staff give to meet a goal of $1,200. This was almost double what the staff was able to give last year and shows our commitment to serve our community.”

Plitt noted the fund provides financial support to 25 local non-profit organizations.

Dr. Kim Morrison, New Board Member

The United Fund welcomes Dr. Kim Morrison, superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, to the Board of Directors. Dr. Kim Morrison has worked in education for the last 23 years implementing innovative award winning programs. She currently is the Superintendent of Schools for Mount Airy City Schools implementing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) district wide.  She has helped bring in over 25 million dollars of federal grants to support innovative schools and works with districts all over the country to implement strong educational programs.  Programs she initiated and implemented have won national awards including the Ronald P. Simpson award, the top magnet award in the nation along with Mount Airy Middle School being named a National Schools to Watch.  She was one of two finalists for the American Association of School Administrators, “Women in School Leadership Awards.” She was inducted this year into the Rhododendron Society for Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education, their most prestigious award. She is most proud of being the wife of Tommy and mother of two boys, Kaleb and Eli. 

Dr. Morrison will bring a variety of talents to the United Fund and will continue the long standing partnership between the United Fund and Mount Airy City Schools.