United Way Leadership Givers thanked during picnic

A cross section of the community gathered at Smithview Pavilion recently for an evening of grilling out, relaxing with friends and learning more about programs and agencies that help the less fortunate in Blount County.

The United Way Leadership Givers picnic brought members of the Pillar’s Society together on the evening of June 28 and was well attended despite the threat of rain. “The weather kept a few away,” United Way of Blount County President and CEO Michelle Hankes said. “We were supposed to have 130 but we had more than 100 for sure. The event was for the Leadership Givers in the community and we have a lot of them in the community.”

Leadership Givers are considered members of the Pillar’s Society when they give $1,000 or more during the United Way campaign.

Hankes said the picnic is paid for through sponsorships, so no one’s United Way contribution or donation goes toward this cost. “It’s a ‘thank you’ and a way to show them what we spend their money on,” she said. “They like to be educated on where their money goes.”

Hankes said a new initiative was also announced that would create a collaborative effort between the Chamber of Commerce and Pillar’s Society members to try and increase the number of individuals in the 45 and younger age group who participate in civic and leadership efforts in the community. “This is a collaborative effort with the Chamber and other organizations looking at building up the leadership capacity of the under 45 crowd,” she said.

Hankes said there are times that individuals in this age group want to get involved and don’t know how, while at the same time individuals who have served in organizations or as volunteers are hoping for younger leaders to step up and accept more responsibility in the community.

“A lot of times, the easiest way for them to begin to get involved is by writing a check,” she said. “That’s one way to get young leaders involved.”

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