BY LURAH LOWERY | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER BRISTOL, Va.
Although United Way of Bristol didn’t meet its 2014-15 campaign goal of $1.425 million, more than $1.2 million was raised and a celebration to officially end the campaign was held Friday at Holiday Inn in Bristol. “We were disappointed that we didn’t hit our goal,” said Lisa Cofer, United Way of Bristol executive director. “However, we are extremely thankful to be able to fund the agencies at the level we had originally committed to them and the reason we’re able to do that is because people have been so generous in the past campaigns and collections have been really good and our board, staff and volunteers are tremendous stewards of the monies that are donated.”
The organization raises money each year to fund 28 local agencies that include 45 programs. Most of the campaign money comes from donations from community organizations, businesses, and individuals. A new way to raise money was thought of for the 2013-14 campaign and continued for this year’s campaign. Parking spaces were sold downtown during the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, which raised $6,000 the first year and $12,000 the second. “These organizations help our community’s most vulnerable citizens, especially children from falling through the cracks,” said Jim Maxwell, chairman of the board of directors of United Way of Bristol and publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier. “These agencies and their dedicated staff and volunteers are on the front lines. They work tirelessly each and every day to help keep hope alive for so many living here in this community who are in need.” Each year since 2011, expenses to fund agencies have exceeded revenue; in 2014, expenses exceeded revenue by $205,000, said Glenn Myers, treasurer of the board of directors. “That’s certainly the largest amount I’ve seen since 2003,” he said.
In 2011, the agency’s expenses exceeded its revenue by nearly $27,000 and the total was $32,000 in 2013. “Those are typical years, 2014 was not,” Myers said. “What does that mean? Is this a one-year anomaly or is this a trend for the future? … We have rainy day funds to try to help us out. … We see this as a challenge. We feel that we can get through 2015 to meet all our goals and accomplishments; 2016 and beyond we’re really going to have to look at that. We want to stand united — we want to build something that will stand.” United Way’s annual report normally is presented at the annual meeting but will instead be available at www.unitedwaybristol.org and sent out via email next week.
Several awards were given out Friday, including the Top Giver Award, which went to Strongwell Corp., which raised $111,703. The Campaign Chairman’s Award went to Abuse Alternatives and the City of Bristol, Virginia. The President’s Campaign Award went to Bristol Regional Medical Center and the Volunteer of the Year Award was won by David Akard III, who is currently serving his third term on United Way of Bristol’s board of directors. He previously served on the agency’s campaign division support team and was an evaluations and allocations volunteer.
Lola McVey, 2014-15 campaign chairwoman, also recognized this year’s campaign cabinet members for their hard work, leadership, and dedication. “It’s been a lot of hard work, but it has been a great year,” she said. “Our campaign did fall short this year, but we’re trying to use that as an opportunity to figure out what we can do better next year so that we can continue to fund the agencies because there are still a lot of needs.”
United Way accepts donations year-round. To donate, visit www.unitedwaybristol.org and click on the donate button. Checks may also be mailed or dropped off at the United Way of Bristol office at 315 8th St., Bristol, TN 37620. Click here to read the complete article and view additional photos.