Deadline to stake claim to tickets is only two days away — Friday, Aug. 19. Ticket price is $15.
As in years past, the gathering will be hosted jointly by members of the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs of Cleveland. The festive event is set for Tuesday. It will begin at noon, but food lines will open by 11:15 a.m. and luncheon organizers urge attendees to arrive early to the Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy site.
Hearing the encouraging remarks of the keynote speaker — which is traditionally a business, government, education or community leader with years of active partnership with United Way — is always a kickoff highlight.
But another integral component of the gathering is the series of campaign updates by representatives of the Pacesetter and Challenger firms whose civic-minded leaders have agreed to take on the challenge of conducting early internal drives and to have those results ready for a report-out at the kickoff. It is always a fitting jump-start to the United Way fall campaign that normally concludes at about Thanksgiving.
Any who are unfamiliar with United Way fundraising might not understand, or properly value, the role of Pacesetters and Challengers. In short, the work of these community leaders is invaluable to the start of any United Way fundraiser whether in Seattle, Wash.; Bangor, Maine; Dallas, Texas; or Cleveland, Tenn.
Pacesetter and Challenger firms are traditionally companies, businesses, industries, government offices or schools, and sometimes other types of organizations. In both, their campaigns are conducted early. Challengers also commit to attempt at least a 10 percent increase in giving over the previous year.
Organizations that accept either of these campaign roles are taking on huge responsibilities because their early report-outs are a barometer of what lies ahead. United Way of Bradley County is a year-round organization whose member agencies, programs and special services provide a community outreach from January through December; yet, the annual fundraising campaign is limited only to the fall season.
The coming drive will greatly task its dedicated volunteers and loyal supporters because for much of 2011 — at least, since April 27 — United Way has given much of its time and manpower serving direct roles in Bradley County’s immediate storm recovery efforts. This is no less true with the long-term rebound.
Consider these facts.
United Way is providing direct oversight of the consolidated Cleveland/Bradley Disaster Relief Fund which, at last reports, was hovering as the $300,000 mark.
United Way is providing personnel support with much of the storm recovery planning and holds membership on the crucial Bradley County Long-Term Recovery Organization.
United Way is providing offices, conference rooms and internal support to strategic long-term planning, including workspace for recovery leader Jim Polier, case manager supervisor Lisa Mantooth and volunteers.
Truly, the organization has been spread thin over the past few months responding to community needs. Yet, it must now return its focus to its own immediate future.
We encourage United Way believers to attend the kickoff luncheon by welcoming a special guest speaker while helping to launch a new fundraising campaign that will test Bradley County’s spirit in the wake of the unprecedented disaster that befell our community less than four months ago.
Luncheon tickets may be reserved by calling 479-2020 or 472-9876; by fax at 339-1110; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or simply drop by the office at 85 Ocoee St. in downtown Cleveland.