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, downtownrocksandruns.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=1858, 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 - awinemiller@mtairynews.com

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. 

Christopher Cook, New Board Member

The United Fund of Surry Welcomes Christopher Cook to the board of the United Fund of Surry. Christopher will represent the Pilot Mountain area of Surry County. Christopher is originally from Pilot Mountain, graduating from East Surry High School. He and his wife Amanda, along with their 3 children are active members of First United Methodist Church. Christopher owns Alliance Insurance Services, with offices in Winston Salem, Walnut Cove, and Mount Airy, NC.

Surry Homeless and Affordable Housing Coalition added as United Fund Agency

The Surry Homeless and Affordable Housing Coalition has been accepted as an agency of the United Fund of Surry. The Surry Homeless and Affordable Housing Coalition operates two programs: a Permanent Supportive Housing Program and a Transitional Housing Program. The Permanent Supportive Housing Program provides rental assistance and case management for 12 scattered lease units of permanent housing for homeless people with disabilities. Each client and family receives on going case management and support toward individualized goals. The Transitional Housing program provides temporary subsidized housing for three homeless families without disabilities who are leaving area shelters. Individuals in this program develop the skills to establish and maintain stable housing. While in the program, individuals work personalized plans to address areas such as mental health, substance abuse, budgeting, increased income, and health. SHAHC has been able to successfully help the chronically homeless break the cycle of homelessness.

 SHAHC currently houses 19 individuals in their Supportive Housing program, including 4 single men. Currently, no other agencies in the area are able to house single men. In 2015, SHAHC provided more than 10,000 nights of shelter to Surry County homeless individuals. These individuals received more than 2,000 hours of case management and transportation. The program served 29 people in the Permanent Supportive Housing Program. All participants remained in housing for a minimum of 6 months and 84% of the participants have remained in stable housing for more than a year. 

In 2015, SHAHC received a referral from the Shepherds House, the local homeless shelter for a family of 4. The mother was currently living in the shelter, having recently started treatment for substance abuse. Her 5 year old daughter and 11 year old son were living with relatives and 16 year old daughter was living at the Children's Center. With the help of SHAHC, the mother was able to locate housing and all three children were able to return home with her. The mother continued to participate in her substance abuse treatment and has been successful with remaining drug free for over a year. This is just one of many families that has a brighter future due to the dedication of the people involved with the Surry Homeless and Affordable Housing Coalition.

The United Fund of Surry is dedicated to funding programs that both address current critical needs but also focus on reducing and alleviating those needs in the future. By building strong families, we are building a stronger and healthier community. 

Many run in Rocks and Runs

By Andy Winemiller - awinemiller@civitasmedia.com


Cash prizes made the difference in attracting competition to this year’s United Fund of Surry Downtown Rocks and Runs fundraiser.

United Fund director Christina Plitt said Saturday’s ninth annual 5k race touted a field of competitive runners and more overall runners than in years past.

“You get some fast people when you offer cash prizes,” remarked Plitt.

Cash prizes of up to $250 were offered to those runners who placed in each age division. Plitt said the cash prizes were made possible through an anonymous donation from an individual who “wanted to spark some competition.”

This year’s event posted a field of 237 timed runners, said Plitt.

She also noted the race had raised more money for the fund and the 25 local agencies the United Fund financially supports than last year’s event.

Last year about $17,000 was raised at the event.

Plitt said the event’s success was a result of both increased participation and the support from the community — especially member organizations.

“Our costs were minimal,” said Plitt, noting food, shirts and other costs were covered by sponsorship dollars or provided by member agencies.

Many member organizations were on hand volunteering at the race Saturday morning. One such organization was Yokefellow Ministries, a local food pantry.

Dixie Ratliff, the pantry’s only paid employee, said last year Yokefellow distributed more than 409,000 pounds of food in the local community, an undertaking made possible by the support of the United Fund.

“United Fund’s support is huge,” said Ratliff. “They are our largest contributor.”

Plitt said while the Rocks and Runs fundraiser, which included a performance by the Craig Vaughn Experience at Old North State Winery Saturday evening, may create the buzz surrounding the United Fund, the race is but the beginning of a year-long campaign to raise funds.

This year, the fund plans to match its $450,000 goal of last year, said Plitt. Last year was the first time the organization had met its fundraising goal in four years.

She said the bulk of funds raised is actually garnered through an “employee campaign,” in which employees of local companies can choose to have donations deducted from their payroll. About 25 to 30 local companies take part in the program.

Incoming United Fund board chairman Todd Tucker said he’s looking forward to another year — the 60th year, to be exact — of raising dollars for local agencies.

“I look forward to working with all our agencies,” said Tucker. “I am also appreciative of all these volunteers out here helping today.”