United Way of York County kicks off fundraising with ‘pep rally’

jzou@heraldonline.comSeptember 24, 2013 

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The United Way of York County kicked off the start of its fundraising year Tuesday with a football-themed luncheon emphasizing teamwork and increased community outreach.

The non-profit organization, which raises money for 29 York County agencies, announced a funding target of $1.4 million during a “pep rally” at Events at Manchester in Rock Hill.

“We are going even higher than we did last year,” said Kim Johnson of the new funding goal, which is up from $1.3 million.

Johnson, the organization’s community impact director, delivered a rousing speech to the audience that included representatives of partner agencies, local politicians, civil servants and corporate sponsors.

She likened the United Way and its sponsors to an octopus.

“You guys are the tentacles,” she said. “Every one of you is part of our body.”

Pompons and a string of pennants draped across a banister bearing the organization’s “Live United” motto added to the event’s athletic theme.

Debbie Abels, chairwoman of the United Way of York County’s board of directors, introduced four new board members and pointed to the organization’s success in meeting its target last year.

Abels, president and publisher of The Herald, also welcomed the group’s new president, Rebecca Melton.

“What would the community do without all of you in this room?” said Melton, former executive director of the Children’s Attention Home since and former longtime CEO of the Upper Palmetto Chapter of the American Red Cross. “The agencies are dependent on United Way.”

She urged the audience to build on its community base to meet the increased target, which is determined by the needs of partner agencies.

“The needs are continuing to grow,” she said. “If you think your contribution is small or great, we need it.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of York County is one of those partners that relies on the United Way to help pay for youth programs.

“For us, United Way funds are critical for our existence,” said David Carriker, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs. “Being a partner agency is about more than just money, it’s a sense of community.”

Carriker and members of his staff make it a point to attend United Way events every year to signal their support for the organization and the community as a whole.

United Way gives money to agencies that focus on the organization’s three-pronged mission to support housing and education as well as health and wellness in the county.

Programs include prescription drug discount cards available to residents without health insurance and public warming centers during winter months.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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