Community turns out to wish new United Way executive director well

The offices at United Way of Blount County have been busy the past few weeks. A changing of the guard always leads to increased activity. Last week, a reception was held at the office so the community could meet and great the new executive director of the organization.

Executive Director Sandra Davis is retiring and Michelle Hankes has been named to fill the position. As Davis sized up her successor, she smiled. Michelle Hankes, she said, “has a passion for working with volunteers and seeing people get the help they need.”

Hankes official introduction came a few days before the Jan. 23 reception when Hankes was introduced at the United Way of Blount County Annual Meeting at the Airport Hilton. For this reception, however, the 34-year-old mother of two had her parents and sons to help cheer her on.

“I think she’s going to do a great job,” said Davis. “She’s working hard to meet as many people in the community as possible. I think the biggest thing is she loves this type of work.”

Hankes said she was excited about her new position. “I’m enjoying it. I can’t wait to get to it,” she said.

Hankes’ parents, Sue Ellen and Harold Weltzin, formerly of Iowa, retired to Blount County six years ago. Sue Ellen Weltzin said she and her husband were glad when their daughter got the job at United Way.

“We are thrilled about this,” said the proud mother. “Her visits were never long enough. All our children live far away. Getting one closer was a real plus. Now we’re waiting on the others.”

Harold Weltzin said his daughter has a heart for serving others and for making things happen. “She loves to help others,” he said.

Harold Weltzin worked in the audio-visual department at the high school where his daughter attended, and he recalled a time when she was a sophomore that he saw what kind of leader his daughter could be.

His daughter at the time was in the drama/theater program, and Harold Weltzin was speaking with the drama coach before play rehearsal began. “The kids were just wandering around. My daughter walked in the theater, took 10 seconds to size up the situation, gave orders and everyone got to work,” he said. “That’s just the way she’s always been. Everyone gets to work, and there’s no complaining.”

Hankes said her parents influenced her career choice. “Not everyone had as good of parents as I did,” she said. “That’s why I work at United Way.”

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