United Way celebrates reaching its $6.9 million goal

Five months after kicking off the 2017 United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley campaign, the chairman announced its goal of $6.9 million was reached during a celebration Thursday at the Martin-Idle Hour Park Community Center in Phenix City.

“It was tight,” campaign chair Ray Smith said minutes before the announcement.

Smith, who serves as chief of police at the Phenix City Police Department, said the total of $6,939,736 was reached about a week ago. It was spurred on with a $1.2 million contribution from TSYS and a late donation of $10,000 from Women United.

“We started with the numbers as we marched forward,” Smith told about 170 supporters at the center. “There were some struggles to get to that goal. We were worried about that.”

By reaching the goal, it shows how generous and compassionate the community is, Smith said. “We are so grateful for the dedication of all the volunteers of our community,” he said. “Without their efforts, none of this would have been possible. There were some challenges along the way but we pulled through and exceeded the goal.”

The theme for the campaign was “Different Stories, 1 Community.”

Scott Ferguson, president and CEO of United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, said the organization is fortunate to have a community that is concerned about helping those in need. “Many local companies stay engaged with United Way year round by encouraging their employees to not just give but to volunteer through our Volunteer Center,” Ferguson said. “We all have a Different Story, but we are a part of 1 Community.”

During the campaign, Smith said it’s a roller coaster ride. “You think you’re going to get your goal and may not get your goal,” he said. “You tell a story and get along.”

At the end of the program, Randy Burt was announced as the 2018 chair of the next United Way campaign. Burt of Publix Super Markets Inc. said it’s a privilege to be part of the campaign.

“I will be seeing everyone of you at some point in time,” he told volunteers. “You can go ahead and write the check now.”