United Way shocker: Campaign reaches goal with late $40K push

Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

United Way of Hamblen County 2013 Campaign Chair Shirley Holt, left, reacts as UW Executive Director Gary Matthews and Public Relations Director Edwin Goan unveil a much better than expected final fundraising tally during Tuesday’s annual meeting at Rose Center’s Prater Hall.

United Way of Hamblen County 2013 Campaign Chair Shirley Holt, left, reacts as UW Executive Director Gary Matthews and Public Relations Director Edwin Goan unveil a much better than expected final fundraising tally during Tuesday’s annual meeting at Rose Center’s Prater Hall.

They kept her in the dark prior to Tuesday afternoon’s annual meeting — United Way of Hamblen County staff chose instead to reveal the fundraising news to 2013 Campaign Chair Shirley Holt publicly.

As Holt was delivering her campaign summary in front of a near-capacity crowd at Rose Center’s Prater Hall in Morristown, she said, “I have no idea,” at the point when the final total was to be officially announced.

UW Executive Director Gary Matthews and Public Relations Director Edwin Goan then left their chairs and unfurled a large banner near the podium, printed with the number: $1,500,110.

Holt’s emotional response was accompanied by vocal outbursts of surprise from the audience, followed by enthusiastic applause. The surprise was due to the fact that as of Jan. 3 the campaign had fallen short of its goal of 1.5 million by $43,969, according to Matthews.

The shortfall would have meant significant losses to the programs of the 23 United Way agencies located throughout Hamblen County; however, a last-minute rally by the campaign cabinet volunteers brought the much-needed monies in. According to Matthews, the last of the donations were tallied at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Holt had to grab a rainbow-colored packet of Kleenex before she could finish her comments.

“I think I need to change this speech,” Holt said. “Oh, wow, what a community we have. Last year, I said I thought there were angels among us. Now I know there are angels among us. Just a few days ago, we were $40,000 short. Talk about last minute. I honestly did not know where we were. Thank you all.

“I could not be prouder of our team and our community. With all of the challenges, I am very pleased, very pleased, with the results. You all have done this. Your teams have done this; your community has done this.”

Top company contributors included JTEKT Automotive, MAHLE, Rogers Petroleum, Howmet, Colgate-Palmolive, Meritor, Colortech, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, International Paper, Jefferson Federal Bank, Wallace Hardware, Hamblen County School System, Team Technologies and First Tennessee Bank.

The Larry Walen Leadership Circle of Giving, chaired by Don Rogers, has a current membership of 296 families, or community leaders, who contribute gifts of $1,000 or more to the United Way of Hamblen County. Thirty-seven new members enrolled in the program in 2013, and the group raised $553,918 during the campaign.

Sam Grigsby, president and CEO of Community National Bank, was named the 2014 United Way of Hamblen County Campaign Chair.

Grigsby and Holt join individuals named during the meeting to a three-year term on the United Way of Hamblen County Board of Directors: Mike Davidson, Susanne Deneau, Jeff Hebestreit, Robb Neill, Scott Reams, Robert Satifort, Mike Thompson and Clyde Wood.

-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer

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