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October 27, 2021

United Way asks for community input

New leadership announces new programs at United Way of Alexander

At its January meeting, the United Way of Alexander County elected a new set of officers and Board of Directors. The following individuals were elected to their respective positions: Dianne Little, President; Shelly Sebastain, Vice-President; Kathy Jones, Treasurer; and Christy Harrington, Secretary. Other members of the Board of Directors include Ashli Elder, Kathy Riddle, and LeAnn Sparks.

The United Way is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of Alexander County residents in the areas of education, financial stability, and health. To accomplish that mission, the organization supports local agencies who develop programs in the three areas. This year’s agencies receiving monetary support from the United Way of Alexander County are the Alexander County Partnership for Children, the Alexander County Family YMCA, the Mobile Café, the Bridge Community, the Alexander County 4-H Program, the Alexander County Rescue Squad and EMS, and the Alexander County Department of Social Services.

Little emphasized that due to the lingering pandemic, the above agencies are not receiving all that they have requested in funding. According to Little, fundraising efforts during the last year were hampered by the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic issues it created for individuals, families, and businesses. “The previous board just could not raise the funds they needed and wanted to raise because of the pandemic. We hope that as restrictions are lifted, we will be able to make much greater progress in our fundraising efforts because the needs still exist and have only been amplified in the last 16 months. Even though we face an unprecedented challenge to fulfill the organization’s mission, we want to confront that challenge head-on and at a much higher level. We must address it with a new intensity if we are really going to make a difference in the lives of those we serve,” said Little.

The Board of Directors also wants to address the most critical needs of our county. To understand those needs, the board will be looking to the residents of Alexander County. The local United Way is asking residents to complete a “Community Needs Survey 2021” (a copy is included in the July 7, 2021, edition of The Taylorsville Times or readers may complete the survey online by August 1 at  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScY94h5c0-ZFf5bapclMZJ5o2kC3GZmqyH-QdZ9oSLr4anQlw/viewform or click/tap the United Way logo below this article). The board will share the survey results with local and county government and with the public and will address them in the organization’s Strategic Plan.

One of the current board’s first fundraising projects will launch soon in the form of the “365 Drive.” The “365 Drive” is a campaign to enlist the support of small businesses (those with fewer than 25 employees) in Alexander County. The businesses joining the “365 Drive” will be asked to pledge $365 per year ($1 per day) for the next 12 months. The money brought in by this project will go to the agencies served by the local United Way and to emergency situations involving Alexander County residents. In return for their contributions, small businesses will receive a sticker for display at their main location, listing and link on the United Way of Alexander County’s website and Facebook page as well as in The Taylorsville Times, invitations to and recognition at the local organization’s events, volunteer and networking opportunities, and social media recognition on “Small Business Saturday.”

Little said that this project could make a tremendous difference in our area: “We are so excited about the 365 Drive because it is a great way for us to increase our small businesses’ exposure in our community and better the lives of our citizens at the same time.”

Little wants to emphasize that the United Way of Alexander County’s Board of Directors is composed entirely of volunteers. “We do not have a paid employee on our Board; and we do not intend to hire any employees, including an Executive Director, until we can afford to do so. I am just so grateful that we have on our board people who are willing to devote their time and talents without receiving compensation. With that said, we are looking for 4 or 5 prospective board members who are just as dedicated to helping our community; and we are also looking for volunteers to help us at events.”

Anyone interested in serving on the Board of Directors or as a volunteer should contact Dianne Little by mail at United Way of Alexander County, P. O. Box 232, Taylorsville, NC 28681; by email at diannelittle71@yahoo.com; or by phone at 828-234-2588.

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