It's hard to believe that we are already gearing up for the 2020 United Way campaign!
Pacesetter campaigns are running, and results are being tallied. Looking back, we have had some pretty amazing things happen over the last year. Even during a global pandemic, the community and its leadership have stepped up and are making United Way a priority -- because many of their employees count on United Way services.
In 2019, over 57,000 lives were impacted by United Way. United Way focuses on the building blocks of a good life -- education basic needs, and health. This means ensuring that kids are graduating on time with skills to be career and life ready, that adults with disabilities are given a meaningful day, and that we are reducing the long-term need for food, housing and utility assistance. You can learn more about United Way success stories on our website, ourunitedway.org. During the pandemic, we have invested over $80,000 in additional resources beyond what we originally budgeted to help people meet basic needs when they need it most.
This year's United Way campaign has the benefit of having co-chairs. I am so pleased to be supporting two longtime friends, Chuck and Jody McClurg, as they lead the charge.
Chuck McClurg graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in marketing before starting with Shaw Industries as a territory manager in 1992. Chuck has held various positions over the past 28 years leading up to his current role as the vice president of Shaw Turf. Chuck is married to Jody McClurg.
Jody graduated from Auburn University with a degree in human resources management. She worked for several years at Shaw Industries before becoming a full-time wife, mother and community volunteer. Jody currently serves on the Dalton Public Schools Board of Education and is involved in numerous other volunteer roles.
The couple has two children -- Charlie and Parker. Charlie is a freshman at the University of Mississippi, and Parker is a sophomore at Dalton High School.
Chuck is no stranger to leading a United Way campaign in very challenging times. Chuck chaired the Shaw Industries United Way campaign in 2008 when layoffs and plant closings were occurring due to a global recession, one that hit the floorcovering industry especially hard. I can't think of a better choice to lead the community campaign that someone with Chuck's ability, leadership skills, passion and experience. The fact that he has Jody as a partner makes the team that much stronger.
"Having grown up here, I know that our community is strong. But, I know there are many in need. Having worked with United Way for several years, I have seen firsthand how the local agencies are helping families which contributes to the overall health and success of our community. We recognize the blessings in life and how important it is to share our blessings with others," Chuck said.
"We know that so far 2020 has brought us so much uncertainty. COVID-19 has impacted every area of our lives. It has altered the way we gather together, the way we work, the way we educate our children, the way we worship and the list goes on and on. Everything seems so uncertain, but there's one thing that remains certain during these times, and that's the increasing need of so many within our community," Jody said.
"We know the campaign will look different this year due to the impact the virus has had on our local economy. However, the needs within our community have never been greater. United Way's 23 community partners need the full support from the citizens of Whitfield and Murray counties. Given the uncertain environment, it makes the success of the overall United Way campaign that much more important," added Chuck.
Stay tuned for campaign updates by following United Way of Northwest Georgia on social media (@unitedwaynwga). Our trike race has gone virtual this year as companies compete for points and your votes for the best decorated trike.
This is such a great opportunity for our community to come together to show our United Way spirit and community pride. We invite you to join us!
Finally, please join me in thanking this year's Campaign Co-Chairs, Chuck and Jody McClurg, as we begin another year of mobilizing donors, advocates and volunteers to fight for the education, basic needs and health of every person in our community!
Amanda Burt is the president of United Way of Northwest Georgia.