United Way of Greater Chattanooga hosted almost 300 supporters at its annual meeting and Partnership Celebration on Wednesday, during which key companies, volunteers and clients were also recognized for their efforts on behalf of United Way in 2013, including raising a record-breaking $12,059,926 in the annual campaign.
United Way President and CEO Eva Dillard welcomed everyone and explained that outgoing board chairman, Dr. Bill Stacy, could not be present, but played a short videotaped address from him to the audience. She then turned the meeting over to 2013 Community Campaign Chair Tom Decosimo.
Mr. Decosimo addressed United Way’s impact of services over the course of 2013, detailing improvements in Education, Stability and Support, such as:
• 93% of children who participated in one of United Way’s Early Childhood Education Centers demonstrated that they had developmentally appropriate literacy skills.
• More than 1,000 children benefitted by enrolling in Lexia, a skills-based literacy learning program, during out-of-school time.
• Almost one out of every two people, who participated in a neighborhood program served by United Way’s Building Stable Lives (BSL), began working full time or were enrolled for further education.
• Six out of 10 families in neighborhoods served by United Way’s BSL are now paying less than 40% of their household income on safe housing.
• These same BSL neighborhood employed participants average a 50% increase in their income.
After his overview of the impact in 2013, he then turned to the topic of the 2013 Community campaign.
Mr. Decosimo shared with the audience, "It is with a sense of tremendous gratitude to the citizens and businesses of the greater Chattanooga and the North Georgia area that we announce the 2013 United Way community campaign has surpassed its stretch goal of $12 million. United Way's focus on education and family stability, while providing for our most vulnerable, resonates with our famously generous community. I thank my counterpart, Dan Traynor, who ran a very successful Combined Federal Campaign. We also thank the many volunteers that worked tirelessly to surpass this $12 million mile stone. Finally, we thank the board and staff of the United Way, its agencies, and its partners - all of whom work to measurably improve our children's education and enhance family stability."
The following companies and volunteers were recognized by Mr. Decosimo for excelling in their efforts on behalf of United Way:
- Companies of the Year:
- Large – Hamilton County Schools
- Medium – Coca-Cola
- Small – Northwestern Mutual
- Chairman’s Award – EPB and Miller & Martin
- Outstanding Regional Company – Shaw Industries
- Leadership Award – Unum
- Outstanding New Campaign – Hutton
- Outstanding Agency Campaign – Orange Grove
- Outstanding Company Coordinator – Amanda Blake-Scherle, Volkswagen
- Lifetime Achievement Award – Hosea Pierce, EPB
- CFC Service Award – Jamie King, TVA
- Advocate of the Year – Joe Smith, YCAP Program
In addition to the company awards presented, Ross Schram, United Way's Allocation Committee Chairman, recognized Girls Inc.’s Bookworm Club as the Impact Program of the Year, for working with 85 elementary school girls in at-risk neighborhoods. In the 2012-2013 school year, there was an 3.87% increase in recognition of the ABC’s, a 19.6% increase in recognition of the names of numbers, and 11.63% increase in recognition of names of days of the week, and a 28.6% increase in recognition of the names of the months of the year. But it’s more than this. The better behavior, eagerness to read, and improved engagement are the changes that will make a difference in these girls’ lives.
Mr. Schram also recognized Gerald Lawson as the Service Volunteer of the Year for his service as director of HaCoBA Care, serving Hamilton County from local churches by way of referrals from United Way’s 2-1-1 Center. Mr. Lawson is a TVA retiree, but he has been in charge of the program for more than six years, many of them as a volunteer. With help from his wife, he often works as many as 60 hours a week. His organization provided food for more than 10,000 people in 2013, making it the largest provider in Hamilton County. And all with a 100% volunteer staff. It’s a vital link for emergency food to people in need, and Mr. Lawson works to make it happen.
This year, the Tocqueville Society presented the Courage Award to Martin Campbell who overcame personal challenges to achieve greater independence with the help of a United Way-funded program. Russ Blakely, Chairman of the Tocqueville Society, shared with the audience that despite developmental disabilities and mobility issues, Mr. Campbell transitioned into a semi-independent, group home environment after living at home with his parents his entire life. Not only did he successfully make this transition later in life, but he in turn began helping other clients adapt to a more independent lifestyle away from the homes they had known. Then, despite his mobility impairment, Mr. Campbell worked hard to lose 71 pounds to improve his health, his ability to work and his ability to participate in sports. Mr. Campbell is described as a sweet, caring person who rises above his circumstances to help others.