United Way of Blount County celebrated the start of its annual fundraising campaign on Friday as a crowd of members and supporters gathered for the Kindness for Kickoff event at The Shed in Maryville.
Campaign Chair Kevin Painter described the event as an opportunity to celebrate members and donors while “letting people know what our goal is and what the community’s needs are.”
Painter, who also served as emcee for the event, said it was an honor to be the chairman of this year’s campaign.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Painter. “I was born and raised here and my family is here. It is a real joy to be able to help support those in our community who need it most.
Painter’s enthusiasm for the cause was evident when he greeted the crowd, thanking them for all their support and the work they do for the organization.
“We are delighted that all of you were able to participate at the start of this annual campaign,” said Painter. “We know things have been very difficult lately, but we are so lucky to have so many people like you here standing up for the most vulnerable in Blount County.”
Painter then introduced Adriel and Nichole McCord, who spoke to the crowd about the organization’s pioneers – companies that start their campaigns early and “set the tone” for the organization’s fundraising.
“We have had incredible success with the pioneer campaigns,” said Adriel. “So far the leaders have raised a total of $ 228,726.”
Next, Painter welcomed Julie Elder and Bill Eames to the podium to discuss Leadership Giving, which recognizes individuals and households who donate $ 1,000 or more to the United Way of Blount County.
“These donors are helping to create a solid foundation in our campaign, paving the way for positive and meaningful change right here in our community,” Elder told the crowd. “This summer we all worked very hard to secure and strengthen our leadership donor base. “
Elder and Eames were followed by Shane Creasy, who shed light on the organization’s first fundraising event of the year – a golf tournament in June that raised $ 43,000.
Later in the program, Bobbie Eason of Habitat for Humanity in Blount County addressed the crowd, briefing participants on the crucial role United Way plays in helping the organization build and repair affordable homes. throughout the county.
“Without the funding provided by United Way, it would be impossible for our program to maintain the level of operation that we have been able to achieve over the past several years,” said Eason. “These dollars are making a difference in our community.
Towards the end of the event, Painter showed the audience the 2021 campaign video, which featured a number of United Way community partners describing ways the organization is impacting the community.
Before taking the podium to close the program, Painter asked audience members to stand up and share what United Way means to them and why they continue to donate.
“I give to United Way for three reasons,” said Mary Martin, sales manager at SmartBank. “I believe in Blount County, Blount County makes me, Mary Martin, a better person, and all the money raised here stays here.”
Painter ended the day by revealing that the organization had already raised $ 474,887 this year. This is almost a quarter of the overall annual campaign goal of $ 2,021,000.
“I’m excited about where we’re at, where we’re going, what we can do,” Painter said. “We don’t do this work alone. It is truly the strength of all of us that brings about real change. We hope you leave today with the courage to be our greatest advocates. Because we need you in this fight.
The organization’s fundraising deadline is November 19. To learn more about Centraide or to make a donation, visit www.unitedwayblount.org.