On Friday, Aug. 23, a few hundred of United Way’s most faithful supporters, volunteers and donors will convene for the traditional kickoff luncheon at 11:30 a.m., but the always festive event will be held in a different venue — the Cleveland Family YMCA, a United Way member agency and longtime partner in community outreach.
In yet another twist, the event is being planned to coincide with “Day of Action,” a designated time and strategy when multiple local industries and companies have pledged to perform volunteer work at many of United Way’s partner agencies.
Kickoff attendees also will hear traditional updates that are included in the luncheon; that is, reports from Pacesetter firms that have conducted their campaigns early in advance of the communitywide launch. This will serve as a jumpstart of the year’s United Way drive.
Pacesetter campaigns, as well as the drives hosted by their Challenger sister companies, are a key to launching the United Way drive with plenty of momentum. It is not uncommon for these early reports to account for as much as 40 percent or more of United Way’s total campaign goal.
Inspiration also will fill the air as the kickoff will feature two guest speakers who will deliver keynote addresses focused on the importance of giving back to the community.
One presentation will be made by Lesley Scearce, president and CEO of On Point, an organization that has become a recognized leader in the positive youth development movement, both locally and nationally. Not only does On Point equip more than 12,000 local students with the skills they need to succeed each year, the agency’s programs have been duplicated in 40 states and 13 foreign countries.
Another special presenter will be Joe Smith, regional director for YCAP which is a YMCA Afterschool Program for at-risk youngsters that he founded in 1998. The strategy’s effectiveness in reaching out to kids who are most in need of adult supervision after the school day is unprecedented.
But his work with children extends far beyond his professional life. He takes it home as well, as evidenced by the fact that he and his wife have adopted 17 foster children. It is this very type of devotion, and personal commitment, that resulted in another individual achievement. In 2008, Smith was selected to serve as team manager for the U.S. Olympic boxing team.
Friday’s luncheon looks to be another exciting chapter in the chronicles of success stories for which United Way of Bradley County has become known.
But here’s an important reminder. Deadline for confirming reservations with the United Way office is Wednesday, Aug. 21. In order to attend, reservations are required. They can be made by calling United Way at 423-479-2020. Additional information about the luncheon and United Way’s kickoff celebration also can be obtained by contacting this number.
Luncheon cost is $12 per person.
Matt Ryerson, United Way president and CEO, described Smith and Scearce as “... fantastic speakers” who, he pointed out, “... will inspire and motivate everyone at the luncheon.”
We encourage the same eager turnout to United Way’s kickoff that the agency has enjoyed for so very many years. It will offer good food, genuine fellowship, some exciting reports and most importantly, words of motivation that will inspire volunteers while bringing a renewed thump to their hearts and a noticeable lump to their throats.