BRISTOL, Tenn. – Susan Davenport’s words are laced with emotion when she recalls the daily pressure that once weighed on her family as it battled both financial challenges and medical concerns.

“It was a hard time not just financially, but emotionally, too,” she said.

While Davenport and her husband, Waylon, were both working hard to support young sons Logan and Braden, costly vehicle problems made it hard to have consistent, reliable transportation. The couple also was dealing with the emotional upheaval of having a son who needed a delicate surgery – a crisis that every parent dreads confronting.

“Every day, it seemed there was a new challenge for us,” Susan Davenport said. “It was just very tough.”

During those tough times that daily tested the Davenports – and sometimes made things seem far from stable – there was an area organization that provided them help and reassurance. The YWCA of Bristol, which provides daycare services for the Davenports’ sons, put the family’s fee on a “sliding-scale” pay schedule – a move that Susan Davenport said did more than provide much-needed financial flexibility

“It let our children stay in the Y’s daycare program, because there was no other way we could have kept them there,” Davenport said of the payment arrangement.

“It meant everything to be able to keep them in the same environment they were accustomed to having every day, and where they were really comfortable and happy,” she said. “It really let us have a little peace of mind, even with all of the tough things going on for us.”

Today, while every-day life has improved and become much better for the Davenport family, Susan Davenport said they will never forget the YWCA of Bristol’s offer of support and understanding.

“I will be eternally grateful to them,” she said.

The Davenport family is just a single example of the countless area families and individuals helped by the YWCA of Bristol – one of 29 agencies across the Twin City actively supported each year by the United Way of Bristol, which helps tens of thousands of residents annually.

Now, and through the rest of 2011, the United Way of Bristol chapter is conducting its annual regional fundraising campaign.

The theme of this year’s local drive is, “A Good Place to Give Makes a Better Place to Live” – and the United Way of Bristol has set a fundraising goal of $1.3 million.

As in past years, part of the donations made to the United Way will support the YWCA of Bristol, which makes a major difference each day throughout the Tri-Cities: the State Street facility is the only YWCA organization between Roanoke, Va., and Knoxville, Tenn.

“We work literally with individuals from 6 weeks old to elderly loved ones in our community,” said Kathy Waugh, executive director of the YWCA of Bristol, which serves 12,000 to 14,000 people each year. “We’re literally providing some service to the community, in some form, seven days a week.”

In addition to providing affordable, licensed daycare for children and the elderly, the YWCA of Bristol offers extensive services ranging from nutrition and exercise programs to YWCA TechGYRLS (an after-school initiative that lets young at-risk girls learn math, science and computer technology skills) and a teen-pregnancy support program.

“Our goal is to be part of the heartbeat of this community,” Waugh said.

The Y’s tireless work wouldn’t be possible, Waugh said, without the massive assistance provided by the United Way of Bristol, which heavily supports the YWCA’s TechGYRLS, daycare and teen pregnancy services year after year.

“The YWCA might not be here without the United Way, and that’s no exaggeration,” Waugh said.

“We were one of the first organizations supported by the United Way years ago. And as we’ve added and diversified programs to meet the changing needs of our community, it has been there with us every step.”

Added Waugh: “Together, we’ve been able to keep addressing many of the critical issues in our community. So, we’re certainly thankful for the United Way and its support.”

Just as thankful, certainly, as Sarah Davenport and her family remain towards the YWCA for its reassuring gesture — at a time one was much needed.

“We can’t possibly thank them enough for what they did,” she said.

reprinted with permission

Roger Brown

(276) 645-2512

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