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United Way to launch campaign, award volunteers

POSTED: September 13, 2012 7:00 a.m.

A Thursday evening event will offer the chance to become acquainted with area nonprofit organizations, tour the Liberty College and Career Academy and recognize the area’s top volunteers.

The United Way of Liberty County also will unveil its campaign fundraising goal Thursday during a Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, which is 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Liberty College and Career Academy on Airport Road.

“Because of the increased need in the community, we increased the campaign goal this year to try and help meet the needs of the organizations in our community that do so much,” said Jennifer Darsey, director of the Liberty County office of the United Way of the Coastal Empire.

Last year, the group exceeded its $181,000 goal by more than $4,000, Darsey said. The entire Coastal Empire met its goal of $8,255,555.

Funds raised until Nov. 15 will be granted next spring to agencies that provide for four areas of need: education and youth development, economic independence, health and wellness, and basic human needs.

Representatives from 26 agencies that receive funding through the United Way will be present to discuss their missions. Visitors can learn how to become involved in the organizations and hear stories of real needs in the community.

“We really want people to meet these agencies and these representatives,” Darsey said. “They’re the ones who are really on the ground fighting these battles day to day, … without our money, they can’t keep their doors open.”

The $200,000 invested in Liberty County last year helped agencies provide more than $2.2 million in resources and services to each family of service, she added.

While the idea of need may be abstract to some, Darsey said she sees it firsthand when people and families call upon her organization for help.

“I have faces I can put with need,” she said. “These people have names and faces, and they’re living in cars and hotels. … I get phone calls daily from people who need, and it’s a legitimate need.”

United Way, in partnership with the Coastal Courier, also will honor those who serve by distributing six community volunteer of the year awards for the following categories: civic volunteer organization, social volunteer organization, youth volunteer organization, individual soldier volunteer, individual volunteer and individual youth volunteer.

“It’s just an opportunity for us to honor them,” she said, adding that more than 40 groups and people were nominated. “It wasn’t an easy decision.”

The LCCA also will play an active role in the event, as culinary-arts students will provide refreshments and graphic-arts students partnered in creating visuals. Students will guide attendees on tours of the facility.

While most Business After Hours events are members-only chamber networking opportunities, chamber CEO Leah Poole said this event has been opened to show “the impact this great nonprofit and its agencies have on the people of our community.”

 

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