Get ready for ‘Caring’

United Way celebrates challenging 08, sets course for 2009

n. 22 for the annual meeting, outgoing board chair Mike Lewis said it would’ve been easy to focus on the negatives and how the year didn’t go as planned.

“In reality, in these times, we continue to be blessed beyond belief,” he said. “We’re here to celebrate everyone who gave of their time and resources. They believe in what United Way stands for.”

During the luncheon held at Maryville United Methodist Church, Lewis recognized the volunteers who helped with this year’s campaign and who help with United Way on a day-to-day basis. “I personally want to thank the volunteers for their time and talent,” he said.

Lewis recognized Denny and Cindy Mayes for their efforts in leading this year’s campaign. While the initial goal wasn’t reached because the economy turned sour in the fall, donors stepped up and just topped the amount brought in for the 2007 campaign. “They raised more money than anyone has in a time that was worse than anyone imagined,” he said.

Lewis said the Mayes were in the right place at the right time.

“I can’t think of two better people to have had leading that campaign,” Lewis said. “It has been one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had.”

United Way of Blount County raised $2,159,233 this fall, which was just over the amount raised the same time the prior campaign year.

Cindy Mayes said she and her husband had no greater honor than to lead the campaign. “We questioned why the Lord did put us in this situation, but we live in the best community we could ever live in,” she said. “We’re truly blessed by the Lord. I want to say thank you to each of you. It’s because of you, not Denny and me.”

United Way of Blount County president and CEO Michelle Hankes said she was thankful to have been serving in Blount County during this past year. “You really couldn’t anticipate what we went through with this campaign,” she said. Hankes thanked Lewis for his leadership. “We would not have made it without you,” she said.

Hankes said she was pleased with the accomplishments of 2008, but that 2009 will be a year of measuring progress and increasing accountability.

“We’re not done yet. We still have a lot of work to do,” Hankes said.

Hankes said that United Way of Blount County will use 2009 to celebrate a Year of Caring to promote the spirit of volunteerism in Blount County. The Year of Caring will promote volunteer opportunities with agencies across Blount County. “It should be a day of caring every day of the year,” Hankes added.

Hankes unveiled to the crowd of approximately 150 the first draft of community benchmarks measuring the progress of social service programs in Blount County. By establishing measurable goals, the organization will address local issues in the areas of education, self-sufficiency, and health.

New officers and board members were announced at the luncheon, and awards were presented to honor employees and organizations who participated in the 2008 campaign.

Lewis passed the gavel to Dr. Bill Seymour, who will chair the United Way of Blount County board of directors in 2009.

“This time will demand creativity, flexibility and adaptability,” Seymour said.

Retiring members of the United Way board include Dave Bennett, Bunker Handley, Don Heinemann, John Keeble, Cookie Crowson, Virginia Hardwick, Jackie Hill, Jack Neithammer, and Ken Smither.

Newly-elected officers of the board include Brenda Sellers, chair-elect; Kevin Painter, secretary/treasurer; John Hinkle, general campaign chairman; and Judith Craw, community impact.

Newly-elected members of the board of directors to serve a three-year term include Judith Craw, Betsy Cunningham, John Hinkle, Sherri Gardner Howell, Regina Jennings, Chris Leonard, Randy Massey, Adriel McCord, and Joe Zappa. Mark Loudermilk was elected to serve a one-year term and the board elected current members Brett McBrayer and Dave Ogle to serve three-year terms. Mike Lewis was also elected to serve a one-year term as past chair.

For more information about United Way of Blount County visit liveunitedblount.org or call 865-982-2251.

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