“We Made It!”
The Yadkin Valley United Fund, backed by pledges and donations from individuals and businesses in the Tri-County region, met, and exceeded, its $150,000 goal for this year’s annual fund campaign.
This is the first time in many years the united fund has met its goal, said David Steelman, executive director of the YVUF.
“We’ve had people give who have never given before,” he said in announcing the feat this week. “We have had a 95 percent positive response, and it’s been great. It makes me want to do it again.”
As of Wednesday, the YVUF raised more than $168,000, reported Steelman. “We should end up $170,000 plus once all is accounted for.”
Thursday night large red magnets were added to the campaign thermometers positioned at intersections and locations around Elkin and Jonesville announcing “We Made It!”
“We” doesn’t just mean the YVUF, it means the community.
“The hospital did four times more than in the past,” said Steelman of some of the factors contributing to the fund’s success. “Get the hospital employees fired up and it spreads in the community.”
Since being named executive director May 1, Steelman lead the YVUF full force. “I never dreamed that raising money for 25 nonprofit organizations in the Yadkin Valley would be this much fun,” he said. “The response of the businesses and individuals have been fantastic. We have had about 20 new businesses and 30 new individuals who have never given before.
“Twelve corporations or businesses have allowed us to do payroll deduction for their employees. New giving amounts were the highest ever in almost all of these businesses. PVH, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, G&B Energy, Weyerhaeuser, Duke Energy, Elkin City Schools, town of Elkin, Bridges School, MVP International and Yadkin Bank were the leaders in payroll deduction employees drives,” said Steelman.
He said the YVUF board members “did so many little things right,” from working with NuLine Printing to create a new brochure, to doing a better job of contacting businesses.
“First of all, we had a great board. I don’t think we’ve had this kind of board with the clout and experience to make things happen,” Steelman said. “I have gone to see 30 to 40 businesses on my own.”
“In my opinion, it is the board who had the wisdom to hire David Steelman as director, and then things came together,” said Ann Ashman, president of the YVUF board. “We need to remember those 25 agencies do great things in our community, and we have more need in our community. And I like to think people are reaching deeper in their pockets and are more receptive to the needs.”
With the agencies supported through the united fund, such as Tri-County Christian Ministry, Grace Clinic and The ARK, the three agencies which receive the most funding, Ashman said, “One donation can reach so many people.
“They each serve hundreds and reach not only the communities listed, but reach out farther.”
Steelman said in looking back over his first six months, YVUF did a lot of things right, which made for the successful campaign. “I credit this year’s board president, Ann Ashman, with great leadership and passion. The other board members who have taken the YVUF to the next level include Ginger Isenhoward, Barry Cleary, Kristi Eidson, Steve Owings, Nathan Lewis, Craig Caudill, Holly Lamm, Laura Oakes, Ron Jester, Frankie Pardue, Leon Baskerville, Phyllis Harris, Wayne Moore and Kathy Poteate.”
Other contributors and supporters to the campaign included the 14 locally-owned restaurants who took part in the “Dine Out for the Fund” week in August, G&B Energy for its “Irons in the Fire” golf tournament in September at Cedarbrook Country Club, Elkin Elementary School’s penny campaign, Century 21, The Tribune and WIFM, Steelman said.
Another contributor is local artist John Furches, who annually donates prints of his artwork to support the fund campaign.
He said he even received a donation from someone who designated through the Greater Triangle United Fund in the Raleigh area for their contribution to come to the YVUF.
“Our community has suffered a loss of jobs, and we have higher unemployment and the median income is lower, so our need is greater,” Ashman said, adding she believes the increase giving this year “is a sign of recognition that we are coming back.”
“After talking to so many people, just about everybody is going to hire someone,” said Steelman. “It is a sign our economic environment is a little better.”
And YVUF is “committed to making them better,” Ashman said. “We’re reaching out, we want to make people’s lives better through these 25 agencies.
“We hope we’ll build on this and the enthusiasm will move into next year,” she said.
A recognition program will be held in the spring for those individuals and businesses who gave $500 or more. “We would love to have people come to our event, it’s not too late to give,” Ashman said. “And we hope everyone in the community will support those who are supporting the united fund.”
The YVUF serves the communities of Arlington, Elkin, Jonesville, Mountain Park, Ronda, State Road, Thurmond and Traphill. In addition to the 25 agencies served, three scholarships are awarded each year, one each to a student at East Wilkes, Elkin and Starmount high schools.
Those interested in giving to this year’s campaign can do so by visiting yadkinvalleyunitedfund.org, emailing [email protected] or calling 336-469-2860.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.