KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE – The United Ways of Northeast Tennessee kicked off fundraising campaigns across the region on Thursday, August 17, 2017. In an event hosted by HomeTrust Bank and the United Way of Greater Kingsport (UWGK) at MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center, goals for all six Northeast Tennessee United Ways were announced, with a regional goal of $7.4 million. Jamie Woodson, CEO of the State Collaboration on Reforming Education (SCORE) was the keynote speaker for the event.


 United Way’s new message is “United We Fight, United We Win.” Dollars raised in each of the community campaigns remain in the region, going toward the work of nonprofit organizations and community impact initiatives that support the health, education, and financial stability of the members of each community. This new message was the theme of the kickoff, with United Way of Greater Kingsport Executive Director Danelle Glasscock, welcoming 300 guests and sharing the new brand credo.


After the Pledge of Allegiance, led by members of the Dobyns-Bennett YES Club and the singing of the national anthem by community volunteer Clark Parker, HomeTrust Tri-Cities Market President Corey Webb, took the stage to share HomeTrust support of the United Way. In his remarks, he said, “HomeTrust is proud to continue this regional United Way partnership at a level first entered into by TriSummit Bank and then-CEO, Lynn Shipley, approximately five years ago. (…) Like you, we are proud and eager to utilize the United Way as one of the most effective tools to enhance our communities.” He continued to emphasize the role of leadership, both of United Way and of supporting its work, saying, “As leaders, it is our responsibility to encourage our co-workers to become involved in the United Way and/or its member agencies. (…) At HomeTrust, our primary method of ‘giving back,’ ‘fighting,’ and ‘winning’ is supporting the United Way. The United Way affords a high level of efficiency and clarity when attempting to leverage time and financial resources effectively.”


Eastman Director of Technology and 2017 UWGK Campaign Chair Bill Trapp, then announced the campaign fundraising goals for each community: United Way of Greater Kingsport, $3.6 million; United Way of Bristol TN/VA, $1.1 million; United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County, $130,000; United Way of Greene County, $580,000; United Way of Hawkins County, $195,000; and United Way of Washington County, TN, $1.8 million. The cumulative regional goal is $7.4 million.


After fundraising goals were announced, United Ways of Tennessee State Association President Mary Graham spoke about the work of United Ways across the region and state before presenting Eastman with the inaugural Regional Leadership Recognition Award. This award recognizes businesses and organizations who are emblematic of a strong, vibrant Northeast Tennessee region, who are committed to its infrastructure and growth, and who have inspired other organizations to support that vision. Eastman Senior Vice President, Chief Legal & Sustainability Officer, and Corporate Secretary David Golden accepted the award on behalf of Eastman. Framing his remarks with The Avett Brothers song “No Hard Feelings” Golden spoke about the “hard times” that each person faces and how giving back can alleviate these difficulties, before sharing,  “Now, more than ever, there is the need for an organization that brings people together and fights for what is right. (…) Since 2001, Eastman has donated over $30 million to the United Way…but we were the true recipients.”


Golden, a SCORE board member, then introduced Jamie Woodson, Executive Chairman and CEO of SCORE. Prior to Thursday’s kickoff, Woodson received a tour of Kingsport City and Sullivan County schools, reading with second-grade classes at Andrew Johnson Elementary and Ketron Elementary. Speaking of the experience, she said, “Today, I had the great pleasure of watching great school leaders, great educators, and amazing students experience the joy of facilitating learning, and the incredible joy of watching a child understand.” She compared the gains Tennessee has made in education, as well as the goals it continues to work toward, to a mountain and shared a message of hope. “When I think about the incredible, historic gains we’ve made in education since 2007, I think we want more. We want to be at the top of the mountain. Tennessee is making progress. (…) United Way is not about one climber, but a community of climbers. If every student succeeds, a community succeeds.” She then thanked United Way for the invitation to speak, saying “I’ve had the privilege to work with United Way for 20+ years. I’m excited that the mission is even more focused. The idea of fighting for every citizen – that’s a fight worth fighting. The United Way fills gaps, but this work is really about understanding root causes and effects. That’s a whole new level of service. If United Way wasn’t doing that, who would be?” She finished her remarks by offering a challenge for those in the audience: “I ask that you recommit. You are all busy folks doing good work. It’s time to double down. The country needs you, your state needs you, these kids need us fighting for them. I would humbly ask each of us to reconnect and accelerate this work. It is you leaders who will be on the ground team of volunteers and leaders in this fight. The challenge is great. I see what you’ve accomplished, and I have no doubt the work will continue to deepen and grow. I want to thank you for giving me hope. My biggest thank you is for the work not yet done.”


In closing, Eastman Director of Health, Safety, and Environmental Chair and UWGK Board Chair Brett Sago presented Woodson with a thank you basket, before inviting Webb and HomeTrust Bank Officer and UWGK volunteer Brent Mullins on stage to present the results of a HomeTrust employee book drive. Sago shared that the drive, led by Mullins, collected over 450 books that will be donated to United Way reading programs across the region. Sago closed his remarks saying, “United We Fight, United We Win. Thank you all for joining us in the fight and living United.”  


Individuals, companies, or organizations interested in learning more about United Way’s work or investing in the community through United Way are encouraged to contact their local United Way for opportunities to GIVE. ADVICATE. VOLUNTEER.