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.