United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley raised $7.1 million during the 2015 fundraising campaign, surpassing its goal by almost $100,000.
The final number was unveiled at a celebration held at the Troy University riverfront campus in Phenix City, where about 200 donors and volunteers gathered to hear the news.
Steve Davis, Columbus Water Works president and United Way campaign chair, thanked donors, volunteers, community leaders and United Way agencies for the success of the campaign. He described the experience as a real eye-opener for him in his role as campaign chair.
“From the outside, and being a part of the Columbus Waterworks campaign year after year, I never really got a sense of how well organized the staff and the whole community is in supporting United Way,” he said. “It’s phenomenal to see all the relationships that come together and encourage one another to just keep on doing a good thing and helping your neighbor.”
Scott Ferguson, United Way’s president and CEO, said businesses came through despite the struggling economy.
“We raised the most money ever,” he said in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer. “I can’t tell you why we were so successful other than 20,000 contributors and hundreds of volunteers listening to our message. It’s a testament to the community’s generosity. It sounds cliche, but it’s true.”
United Way serves 50 programs and 26 agencies in Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Russell, Stewart, Talbot and Taylor counties in Georgia and Russell County in Alabama.
At Tuesday’s celebration, Keith Pierce, executive vice president of TSYS, was named the chair of the 2016 campaign. The organization also recognized several businesses and volunteers for their contributions to last year’s fundraising.
Billy Blanchard, of CB&T, received the D. Abbott Turner II “Volunteer of the Year Award,” which is the highest volunteer honor given by United Way. The award is named after D. Abbott Turner II, a former United Way campaign chairman who died in 2013. The award was presented by Turner’s widow, Cathey, who said her husband spoke fondly of his work with Blanchard on United Way campaigns.
“Abbott spoke often of his love for United Way,” she said. “He loved the fact that United Way works with so many different people and so many different situations. He was so proud of the positive influence our recipient had on, not only the companies and organizations that they went to visit, but also on the people they would come in contact with every day.”
In other categories, Dr. Bindlea Griffin, of Phenix City Public Schools, and James Fuqua, of Pratt and Whitney, were chosen for coordinating outstanding campaigns within their companies.
The “Client Speakers Award” was presented to Margalena Remington, of Feeding the Valley, and Kendall Barfield, of Easter Seals. The “Rising Star Award” was presented to Russell County School District.
The “Small, Mid-Size, & Large Companies of the Year Award” was given to three companies that ran model campaigns. The large company that received the award was Columbus Water Works; the midsize company was Robinson, Grimes & Company and the small company was Brasfield and Gorrie.
The WLC “Women Helping Women Volunteer Award” was presented to Susan Wiggins of W.C. Bradley Co. The “Going Above & Beyond Award” was presented to Tana McHale, of Pratt and Whitney, and the “Live United Award” was presented to TSYS, which raised more than $1 million for the campaign.
The “Chairman’s Award of Excellence” went to Muscogee County School District for exceptional campaign performance, volunteer commitment and support and for raising more this year for United Way than ever before. The President’s Award was presented to Synovus, CB&T/CB&T of East Alabama.
“I am very grateful to live in a community with so many giving individuals,” said Davis in the news release. “Working on United Way’s Campaign gives people hope for a better life. I’m honored to be a part of an organization that helps people with everyday challenges.”
Alva James-Johnson, 706-571-8521. Reach her on Facebook at AlvaJamesJohnsonLedger.