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United Way invites public to 2019 campaign kickoff

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Aug 1, 2019 at 9:53 PM

The United Way of Washington County is inviting the community to help kick off its $1.5 million fall fundraising campaign Thursday, Aug. 8, at Rotary Park.

The theme of the 2019 campaign is “A New Year, A New United Way!” and for the first time this year, the free kickoff picnic is open to everyone with an RSVP to www.uwowc.org or 423-220-1229.

The event will include a surprise community impact activity to help meet a local need and those who wish to participate are asked to bring along a $10 donation.

Catered by Firehouse Restaurant, the luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. under the Harris Pavilion at the park at 1001 N. Broadway St. Bob Cantler, the new president of the Johnson City/Washington County Chamber of Commerce, will be the keynote speaker.

United Way President and CEO Kristan Spear said there are two goals for the campaign this year — “to bring awareness to the needs of our community and to the many partner agencies that are stepping up to meet those needs, and to raise $1,500,000 to elevate our community.”

With a national decline in United Way giving, that along with the merger and departure of some of the local United Way’s largest corporate contributors resulted in a more than $188,000 decline in last year’s contributions compared to 2017, this year’s campaign team will be challenged to get the job done.

Jennifer Owen has been tagged to serve as this year’s campaign chairman and will be assisted by Wishmore, the new United Way of Washington County mascot and social media wizard who will be following the campaign team through the end of the year, starting with next week’s kickoff.

Over the past several months Wishmore has visited each of the United Way’s 22 partner agencies and his appearances have been documented at the Wishmore2019 Facebook page. The community is encouraged to learn more about the agencies and their programs and to follow the campaign as it progresses by keeping up with Wishmore’s journey on Facebook.

Owen said, “Our team is committed to an energetic new approach to the traditional campaign model and social media will be a key component.

“I hope the community, our donors, and our partner agencies see creative opportunities for engagement, as well as increased financial assistance, that deepens our collective impact throughout Johnson City and Washington County.”

Spear said, “As we continue to change the model of our United Way to better adapt to community needs, we need more support than ever before. Everyone’s support, whether it’s one dollar or five million, helps provide the foundation for lasting, positive impact that improves lives and strengthens the future of our community.

“We would love for everyone to join us at our campaign kickoff event on Thursday, Aug. 8, at Rotary Park as we have a few surprises lined up and another fun impact project that you don’t want to miss.”

Spear told the Johnson City Press last week, that because of the decline in giving, this year’s campaign will focus on bringing new companies on board who have never before made an impact through the United Way.

To learn more about the United Way, its partner agencies and the upcoming campaign events, visit www.uwowc.org or contact the United Way office at 423-220-1239.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538, slegg@johnsoncitypress.com or P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605.

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