The lyrics deliver a message of being thankful for everyday blessings, and United Way leaders embraced its tone.
By meeting’s end, volunteers learned United Way’s fall campaign had reached 96 percent of this year’s goal; that is, $1,924,261 of the $2,013,000 objective. It was a significant increase over the $1.1 million mark, or 55 percent, that was reported at the most recent report luncheon three weeks ago.
“It is like the lyrics in Quintin’s song — we have had mountains to climb and trials to overcome — and here we are today being able to report pledges nearing $2 million,” said United Way Board Chairman Cameron Fisher. “Our volunteers have worked extra hard over the past several weeks to get us to this total, and those who support United Way have been so generous to help us be able to help others through our program partners.”
As in past report meetings, several companies were recognized for their campaigns, including Check Into Cash/Jones Management Services, with total pledges just below $100,000, and more is possible.
“As my grandfather and my father said, we should all give our fair share,” said Will Jones, who headed the campaign for the companies. “Our employees have been very supportive of the campaign this year, and we may even have more to report in the near future.”
Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center also received recognition for its campaign, which is 30 percent over its goal. Danny Bradley of Whirlpool cXc said the call center held special events such as gift basket auctions that helped the campaign exceed $41,000 this year.
Other companies recognized for increases in their pledge totals from the 2011 campaign included: Eaton Hydraulics with a 72 percent increase; Cormetech with a 6.6 percent increase; Don Ledford Automotive Center at 217 percent; Tri-Con, 100 percent; the Retreat at Spring Creek and Cleveland Abstract and Title, both with 150 percent increases; the Church of God International Headquarters at 9 percent; and the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce at 39 percent.
Also showing increases were International Paper which is up 11 percent from last year; Water & Waste Equipment, 50 percent; the Museum Center at Five Points, 110 percent increase; the Bradley County Assessor of Property’s office, 480 percent; Bradley County Fire-Rescue, up 252 percent; the Bradley County Emergency Medical Services, 58 percent; the Bradley County Road Department, 100 percent; and Probation Department, 360 percent.
The Cleveland City Schools system is up 10.2 percent from last year, while the Bradley County Schools system increased by 9.8 percent. Lee University was up 3.9 percent as well.
Life Care Centers of America was recognized for pledges totaling $333,024.67. Life Care leads the United Way campaign in company/corporate pledges.
Eaton Electrical reported that 58 percent of those giving at the plant were at the Leadership level, and increases were also reported at Southeastern Container and Wal-Mart. The United Way of Bradley County office staff increased pledges to the cause by 81 percent.
“We are so excited to see these increases, and see that we have risen to 96 percent of goal,” said Campaign Co-Chair Debbie Melton. “To have such a big jump from October shows a lot of hard work and dedication by our volunteers, and a lot of caring by our community.”
Richie Hughes, who co-chairs the campaign with Melton, added that to hear there are still several companies just getting started with their campaigns, or not yet finished with an ongoing campaign, means the United Way goal is within reach. However, it is only within reach if those who have not yet pledged do so, Hughes said.
“We know that we have such incredible leadership in our community, and this has become such a communitywide event, that we feel confident we can reach that goal,” Hughes stressed. “Meeting and exceeding the goal is important as we continue to provide the funds for our program partners, so they can continue to provide the assistance that many in our area so desperately need.”
Even as both Melton and Hughes pointed out how important it is to make the United Way goal, and exceed it as much as possible, they still found the time to playfully dig at each other as most campaign co-chairs do. The campaign-co-chair whose team raises the most in pledges as it relates to team goal wins “The Big Chief” award at the end of the campaign.
At present, Melton’s team has pledges totaling 95.33 percent of goal, while Hughes’ team is at 84.19 percent of goal.
Nancy Casson chairs a division not within either Melton’s or Hughes’ teams which is called the “Special Treats Division.” This division includes the Restaurant Tuesday for United Way events, as well as other United Way events during the campaign. Wednesday, she reported pledges totaling 193.85 percent of goal.
United Way President and CEO Matt Ryerson stressed that while Wednesday’s luncheon was the final scheduled report event, it was by no means the end of the campaign.
“We still have many companies to hear from that we know will have good campaigns, as well as many individuals who are still expecting to make their traditional pledges to United Way, so we will announce a new total sometime in December,” said Ryerson.
Division totals as reported at Wednesday’s luncheon were as follows:
Debbie Melton’s team: Division 1 (Large Firms, chaired by Margaret Schenck), $587,694.46, which is 101.36 percent of goal; Division 2 (Commercial Firms, chaired by Pat Fuller), $36,313.70, 105.24 percent of goal; Division 3 (Commercial Firms, chaired by Tammy Bentley), $34,874, 99.51 percent of goal; Division 4 (Banks and Finance, chaired by Matt Jenne), $200,318.70, 98.23 percent of goal; Division 5 (Professionals, chaired by Tanya Mazzolini), $81,864.69, 71.76 percent of goal; Division 6 (Non-profits, chaired by Dr. Jerome Hammond), $34,443.38, 69.47 percent of goal; and Division 7 (Special Gifts, chaired by Dan and Janey Cooke), $19,170, or 73.04 percent of goal.
Richie Hughes’ team — Division 8 (Large Firms, chaired by Terry Henry), $464,453, which is 79.7 percent of goal; Division 9 (Commercial Firms, chaired by Taylor Howard), $24,595, 60.53 percent of goal; Division 10 (Commercial Firms, chaired by Mike Thomasson), $28,066.88, or 74.23 percent of goal; Division 11 (Government, co-chaired by Donna Simpson and Kim Spence), $56,771.08, 84.46 percent of goal; Division 12 (Insurance, chaired by Andy Williams), $14,723.78, 89.43 percent of goal; Division 13 (Education, chaired by Dr. Walt Mauldin, Paul Ramsey and Johnny Mull), $141,569.95, 106.06 percent of goal; and Division 14 (Special Gifts, chaired by Don and Lila Lorton), $39,345, 104.03 percent of goal.
Wednesday’s luncheon was sponsored by the Mountain View Inn, which hosted the event. Other report breakfast and luncheon sponsors have included Whirlpool Cleveland Division, Resolute Forest Products, Life Care Centers of America, Procter & Gamble/Duracell, Southern Heritage Bank and Check Into Cash/Jones Management Services.