By Sarrah Peters
United Way of Etowah County held its Annual Meeting Wednesday, April 12 at the Pitman Theatre in downtown Gadsden.
Shane Ellison, United Way Board of Directors President, welcomed everyone to the event.
Gary Hodges of Trinity Boadcast Network gave the invocation.
United Way Executive Director Joanne Hightower presented examples of “Why I Give,” the organization’s campaign for the last year.
“I think we need to give until there is not anybody that’s hungry,” said Hightower. “I think we need to give until there’s not one child that’s not ready for school. That’s why I give.”
Hightower also called up directors of local charities to tell the crowd some of the things that United Way organizations did in the last year.
In all, United Way reported over 3,500 volunteer hours that volunteers have given in the last year.
United Way announced that in the past year the organization raised over $1.4 million in donations to add to the over $1 million the organization received from grants, endowments and investment income.
United Way also provided a breakdown on how this money was spent. Safety Net programs, which include the Red Cross, 2-1-1 First Call for Help, The Barrie Center, the Salvation Army, the Food Bank and more, received 29 percent of the funds. The United Way distributed 40,000 pounds of food to local shelters, helped 144 families who lost everything in fires, and provided homeless families with over 40,000 nights of shelter.
Education programs also received 29 percent of funds. Health programs received 13 percent. The United Way campaign received 11 percent, and management received 10 percent. Financial Stability programs received 7 percent of funds. United Way dues took the remaining 1 percent.
United Way also gave several awards at the meeting. Publix was given the New Company award. Koch Foods was given the Rising Star award. Hindsman PC was given the Excellence in Service award. Gadsden State’s Derrick Griffey was given the Young Philanthropist of the Year award.
United Way also presented its former president Tom McKenzie with the first Tom McKenzie Community Impact award.