KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE – United Way of Greater Kingsport (UWGK) hosted its 2016 Annual Meeting on February 8, 2017 with approximately 100 people in attendance, including those who GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER on behalf of the organization, representatives from UWGK Member Agencies, and public officials from the City of Kingsport and Sullivan County. Andy Wampler, 2017 UWGK Board of Directors Vice Chair, gave the invocation, and Dobyns-Bennett High School student Kendall Miller led the Pledge of Allegiance.
This year’s keynote speaker was Jill Stott, Northeast Regional Coordinator for the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. Stott’s topic was “Building Strong Brains: Tennessee’s ACEs Initiative.” The ACEs Initiative works to change the culture of Tennessee so the state’s overarching childhood philosophy, policies, programs, and practices utilize the latest brain science to prevent and mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences. Research indicates that adverse childhood experiences negatively impact the architecture of the developing brain, leaving children more susceptible to later adversity in life. As an ACE score increases, so does the risk for disease, social problems, mental health issues, and health risk behaviors such as violence, alcoholism, and drug abuse. The United Way of Greater Kingsport is taking the ACEs Initiative’s research into account as part of a community impact strategy focused on drug abuse in the region.
For the awards portion of the meeting, UWGK used a Golden Globes format, with Keith Parker, UWGK volunteer, “hosting” the event. After recognizing the outgoing board, Parker presented the UWGK Live United award to Assistant Superintendent of Kingsport City Schools Andy True, for his work leading the United WE READ initiative. Outlining True’s achievements, Parker stated, “He inspired many to READ. From hosting First Lady Chrissy Haslam, to many countless hours in meetings with representatives from our After School Network, parents and caregivers, In-School Excellence, and Community Engagement teams, his continued commitment to engage, empower, and equip all children, families, and the greater Kingsport community with the tools and strategies to build a literacy-rich culture and pathway to success is commendable.”
At the meeting, a motion was presented to affirm the 2017 UWGK Board of Directors slate. This motion was approved, and the 2017 UWGK Board of Directors was introduced:
After the awards, Craig Denison, 2016 UWGK Board of Directors President, reflected on the year’s major highlights, including UWGK’s continued investment in long-term, lasting change through community impact initiatives such as United WE READ, Life BRIDGE, and Appalachian Miles for Smiles Mobile Dental Unit, as well as its support of 30 UWGK member agencies and 44 programs.
Mayor John Clark presented Denison and Joel Mears, 2016 Campaign Chair, with commendations from the City of Kingsport on behalf of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman for their leadership, vision, and support of the United Way of Greater Kingsport. In his remarks, Mayor Clark talked about the “Kingsport Spirit” of coming together for a common cause and the city’s “aim high mindset.” “When those two things are combined, what we can achieve is tremendous,” Mayor Clark said. “One example of this is the United Way of Greater Kingsport. I believe UWGK is a destination city asset…for our city and for our region.” Denison then turned his gavel over to Brett Sago, 2017 UWGK Board of Directors President, who officially adjourned the meeting.