Almost at 1 - reaching for 2

At first reporting luncheon, United Way nears halfway mark toward $2 million goal

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By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

Six weeks into the 2006 United Way campaign, supporters have raised $994,615, which is 49.7 percent of their $2 million goal.

Business and public service professionals gathered at Broadway United Methodist Church on Sept. 29 and announced their totals thus far.

Each division reported, some coming in at more than half of their goal, others just below it, and a few well over.

According to Tony Thompson, Major Firms Division, for example, has raised $512.489, which is 55.2 percent of their goal, reported Tony Thompson. Kevin Painter said the Commerce Division was at "$119,244, 43 percent of our goal." Nick McGuire, who spoke on behalf of the Pillar Society, said the Pillar Society was ahead of last year with leadership giving "15 percent ahead of schedule." The Pillar Society has raised $206,000 so far for the 2007 campaign.

Dave Bennett spoke for Tom Hatcher regarding the Public Service Division’s fundraising efforts. The public service division has raised $69,000, about 34.1 percent of goal, he said. The recent Public Service Workers Hamburger Luncheon raised about $6,000 this year.

"Public service is off and running and off to that ultimate $2 million goal," Bennett said.

Scott Justice with Building Trades Division announced that $49,695 had been raised so far this year. "We’re looking good to reach or exceed our goal this year," he said.

Brenda Pilson with Special Gifts and Residential Division, reported, "We have raised $107,213 - 78.1 percent of our goal," she said. Stephen Daves, speaking on behalf of Joe Ingram for the Professional Division, also was more than 50 percent of goal. "The good news is, as of today, the professional division has raised $69,443, which is 64 percent of the goal," Daves said.

Judy Watts spoke to the crowd and encouraged them in their efforts. Watts spoke of working with Knox County Rescue Squad for 17 years and acknowledged members of the Blount County Rescue Squad in the audience. As if on cue, two members of the squad got beeped and had to leave.

"That was when I was happiest, when I served other people," Watts said. "This (the Rescue Squad) is one of 23 United Way agencies serving Blount County."

Watts praised the efforts and mission of area non-profit organizations that, "keep on giving back to those they serve."

Watts coaxed laughter from the crowd when she assumed the role of "secret agent," which is United Way chairman Mike Lewis’ Mission Possible theme for the year, and encouraged the audience to keep giving. "Up with your hands, out with your wallets," she said. "I’m here to get your money, only through your consent."

Rick Shepard stood in for Lewis, who was out-of-town. He reminded the attendees to support the United Way Gas Day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday Oct. 6 at nine different locations of EZ Stop Markets, Kenjo Markets and Mr. Gas Markets. In addition, Huddle House on Hunt Road and on East Lamar Alexander Parkway is giving 5 percent of sales that day to United Way. Another upcoming activity is the Oct. 9 Raze at the Maze at the Maple Lane Farm in Greenback. The corn maze admission that day and night will go to United Way.

Shepard said the audience had heard good news. "We are ahead of goal, and we are $6,000 short of $1million," he
said. "That’s 49 percent of our goal."

The next meeting will be the Second Report Meeting at noon, Friday, Oct. 27, at Broadway United Methodist Church. The campaign runs through Nov. 17.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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