Amanda Burt: It may be summer, but we aren't slowing down at United Way

Amanda Burt

School is out, vacation time is upon us, but here at United Way of Northwest Georgia our volunteers are working hard behind the scenes and prepping for this year’s campaign which will kick off on Sept. 17 with our annual CEO Trike Race and Block Party at Burr Performing Arts Park.

Last year we exceeded our campaign goal of $4 million, and as you can imagine, a lot of effort goes into raising millions of dollars for our community. We have an amazing campaign cabinet this year being led by campaign chair Bob Hardaway, and we are so excited to partner with these influential individuals to build a better community. Bob is a passionate servant leader whose commitment to United Way and the people of this community is evident in everything he does.

Hats off to our 2019 campaign cabinet: Bob Hardaway, 2019 Campaign Chair, Shaw Industries; Isaiah Bosma, Polymer Solutions Group; Danny Crutchfield, Shaw Industries; James Dixon; Piet Dossche, Shaw Industries; J.T. Finley, Maryville Jewelers; David Gregg, Bank of the Ozarks; Bob Lee, BeauFlor USA; Chuck McClurg, Shaw Industries; Jim Murphy, Shaw Industries; Sparky Roberts, Textile Rubber & Chemical Co.; Katie Rowe, Shaw Industries; Pat Sain, Material Handling; Pete Sigmon, Shaw Industries; Chad Thompson, Shaw Industries; Karen Townsend, community volunteer; Jared Warnack, Phenix Flooring; Terry Wilson, Textile Rubber & Chemical Co.; and Joe Young, Engineered Floors.

Our campaign cabinet sets the stage for our campaign by contacting local businesses and individuals to join us in pursuing a better community. They are committed volunteers that believe in the mission of United Way and have seen firsthand the impact of our programs. They are inspired individuals who desire to raise money to meet critical needs in United Way’s focus areas of education, basic needs and health.

Beyond the work happening for our annual campaign, we have had great volunteer participation this summer with events like our Youth United goLEAD camp in June. Youth from sixth through twelfth grades learned about servant leadership and volunteer project management over the course of five days. The youth completed exercises to discover their personal leadership style, learned how to improve our community through servant leadership from Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood and Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock, helped leaders in Murray County’s 4-H at their Summer Camp and toured several United Way community partners to learn about the needs within our community. On the last day, the youth implemented what they had learned and completed an arts and beautification project at Cross Plains Community Partner. We even had some of the youth who attended our goLEAD camp volunteer on their own later in June with CrossPlains Community Partner by playing softball with their participants.

Our Women’s Leadership Council remains a powerful force for impact and change in our community. The members had the opportunity in June to serve lunch and make goodie bags for Family Support Council’s Camp Aim. This therapeutic camp for child victims of sexual abuse assists in starting the healing process through a two-week session during the summer.

United Way is in the business of building better futures. Our strategic guideline in education is to get kids ready for kindergarten, reading at grade level by third grade and graduating on time with skills to be career and life ready. As part of our education initiative, United Way collaborated with the Birth to Eight Committee along with Readers to Leaders at the Strolling Thunder event at Burr Park on June 1 where we debuted our portable Born Learning Trails.

Born Learning Trails are a series of interactive signs in English and Spanish that offer fun learning activities for young children and their families. It helps parents, caregivers and our community create quality engagement opportunities when out on a stroll or visiting a local playground. During the Strolling Thunder event, crowds paraded to the Whitfield County Courthouse and back to put babies in the spotlight. Volunteers from United Way facilitated activities at each point along the trail and welcomed families to participate in the fun. The event was such a success that Mayor Mock declared June 1 as Children’s Day in Dalton!

We are so excited to install permanent Born Learning Trails during Make a Difference Day in October. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting learning opportunity.

Summer is a great time to volunteer in our community, and volunteering is such a fun and rewarding activity to do together as a family, club or civic group. You can find our volunteer opportunities at www.volunteernwga.org. One big upcoming volunteer opportunity is Make a Difference Day on Oct. 25-26, so mark your calendars and stay tuned for more details!

Enjoy the rest of your summer. Live United!

Amanda Burt is president of United Way of Northwest Georgia.

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