Approximately 165 attendees joined United Way of Sumner County (UWSC) at the sold-out 2022 Community Impact Breakfast on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at the The Gathering Place by Bit O' Heaven Catering in Gallatin.
UWSC CEO, Erin Birch, welcomed the crowd and shared the goal of the event: to help attendees gather information on the needs of their community, encourage them to increase their involvement, and to recognize those who have done so much to move the needle in a positive direction alongside UWSC. She also gave highlights of UWSC's accomplishments for the 2021 campaign season: giving over $452,000 to partner agencies doing outcome based work in the areas of health, education, financial stability, and those coming out of crisis; almost $30,000 to donor designated agencies; over $12,000 to support the UWSC 2-1-1 24/7 community resource referral line and emergency funding; and over $43,900 in in-kind items including coats, diapers, feminine products, and thousands in school supplies for HS students and to supplement teacher supplies during the year. She added that these accomplishments were all made possible because of the collective power of a caring community which included everyone in the room!
Next, Pastor Derrick Jackson of First United Methodist Church, Winchester-Gallatin, gave the invocation and Erin thanked event sponsors: Pat & Chuck Conner; Forward Sumner; ITW StampTech Fasteners; t-shirt Sponsor, Schell Brothers; and presenting sponsor, Meta. Meta Community Development Regional Manager, Tara Tenorio, then shared a few words on behalf of Meta including the importance they place on community involvement.
After recognizing elected officials in the room, Erin introduced U.S. Congressman, John Rose, who shared official remarks that were included in the Congressional Record for August 5, 2022, in support of United Way of Sumner County. “The United Way of Sumner County embodies the spirit of the Volunteer State,” he said. “I encourage all my fellow Tennesseans to find a way to get involved with their local chapter of United Way, and there is no better chapter to engage with than the United Way of Sumner County.” He presented UWSC with a framed copy of the remarks.
Next, UWSC Vice Chair, Len Silverman, presented the 15-Year Awards to recognize those companies with a long history of supporting United Way of Sumner County. The awards for Most Consistent Giving History were given to companies that have given at least $10,000 every year for the 15-year historical period from 2005-2020. They included ITW CIP (recently renamed ITW StampTech Fasteners), ITW Dynatec, Publix Charities, Publix Gallatin, Publix Goodlettsville, Publix Hendersonville, Servpro, The Farmers Bank, TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, and UPS.
The award for Highest Single Giving Year during the 15-year period was presented to ITW CIP for their efforts to raise over $123,000 in 2017. Then the awards for the Top 5 Companies with the Highest Cumulative Giving over the 15-year period were announced. They were: #5 Servpro, #4 TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, #3 ITW Dynatec, #2 Publix Charities, and with more than $1,097,000 in donations over the 15 years, the company with the #1 Highest Cumulative Giving was ITW CIP.
Pat Conner, UWSC Board Chair, then introduced the Annual Campaign awards which included awards in the categories of GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER to coincide with the United Way mantra and she presented the company awards in the GIVE category.
Sumner County Schools was named Overall Top Fundraising Company for the 2021 Campaign.
The awards for the Most Raised in each industry type were as follows:
Most Raised in Business, Sumner County School Maintenance Department.
Most Raised in Government, the City of Gallatin.
Most Raised in Large Medical, TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center.
Most Raised in Manufacturing, ITW CIP.
Most Raised in Retail, Publix Charities.
Most Raised in Schools/Colleges, Hendersonville High School.
The awards for the Highest Growth in each industry type were as follows:
Highest Growth in Business, Wilson Bank & Trust with a 2021 campaign that grew by 1,247%!
Highest Growth in Government, the City of Gallatin. Their campaign grew by 72%.
Highest Growth in Manufacturing, ITW Corporate with 105% growth.
Highest Growth in Retail, Publix, Store #119, Hendersonville with over 7% growth.
Highest Growth in Schools/Colleges, Lakeside Park Elementary School with 158% growth.
Pat closed the Annual Company Giving Awards by recognizing and honoring the Top 20 Companies for Giving in the 2021 Campaign. They were as follows:
Sumner County Schools
HCA Tri Star Hendersonville Medical Center
Publix Store #119, Hendersonville
The Farmers Bank
Publix Store #1141 Goodlettsville
Hendersonville High School
Long Hollow Gardens & Vineyards
Raymond James Financial
Publix Store #1033 Gallatin
Southeastern Building Corporation
Sumner Regional Medical Center
The next presenter was Stephen Beard, CFO for HCA TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center and UWSC board member, who announced the Annual Give Award for the Top Individual Donor as going to Dr. Chad Swan.
For the Annual Campaign Awards in the category of ADVOCATE, Kim Baker, CEO of the Gallatin Chamber of Commerce and new UWSC Board Member, presented an award for the Advocate of the Year Award. This award goes to someone who takes an active interest and role in understanding the needs of our community and then acts and speaks on behalf of those who need our help most. They publicly support the mission of United Way of Sumner County, working as a partner with us to seek short and long-term solutions to the barriers which impede the quality of life for Sumner County citizens. The award was presented to Kelley Crecelius of First Horizon Bank and the US Coast Guard.
Toni Dew, UWSC Projects Manager, announced the Annual Awards in the VOLUNTEER category. The Volunteer of the Year gives a significant contribution of time (more than 40 hours per year) helping build a stronger and more effective United Way of Sumner County. They demonstrate an unyielding dedication to community service and to improving lives in Sumner County by volunteering for a United Way of Sumner County event or fundraiser, working in the United Way office performing an array of tasks, serving on a United Way committee or performing volunteer work on a community project lead by United Way of Sumner County. The award was presented to Theresa Dowell-Fuqua, retired Sumner County Schools teacher and administrator.
As an organization, UWSC believes it is important to give back to our youth which we do by offering internships, job shadowing, educational talks, and by continuing to expand our youth volunteer program. The Youth Volunteer of the Year gives a significant contribution of time (a minimum of 15 hours per year) helping build a stronger and more effective United Way of Sumner County. They demonstrate an unyielding dedication to community service and to improving lives in Sumner County by volunteering for a United Way of Sumner County event or fundraiser, working in the United Way office performing an array of tasks, serving on a United Way committee or performing volunteer work on a community project lead by United Way of Sumner County. The award was presented to Drew Waller, a senior at Station Camp High School.
After congratulating all of this year's award winners, UWSC Development Manager, Michelle Rozell, announced that next year, UWSC will be introducing a new award for Company of the Year meant to embody the full spirit of GIVE, ADVOCATE, VOLUNTEER. The award will be based on a point system to give credit to companies for all facets of involvement with UWSC.
She then explained that UWSC functions as the hub of a network of people whose efforts help them make “community impact.” And that, though they celebrate all that's been done together thus far, they know there is still work to be done and that to truly achieve community impact, we must fully understand the real needs of our community. She went on to say it was for that reason, they wanted to share the results of the most recent United Way hardship study which was just released, based on 2019 data.
She summarized some of the data from the study which found that 60,000 households in Sumner County earned just above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but less than what it takes to make ends meet in Sumner County. This group of people is called ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They are working, but it’s not enough. And because they earn above the FPL, they don’t qualify for most types of public assistance.
The study found that 48% of Sumner County kids fall under the ALICE threshold. She shared details about the number of ALICE children from various races and living arrangements and how many kids from homeowner households vs. renter households are affected. (The full Alice in Focus: Children Sumner County Summary Report is available at the UWSC website.) She announced that UWSC has also already scheduled focus groups to dive more into this data with local Chamber of Commerce leaders and our mayors.
She added that when we talk about ALICE, it’s easy to just see numbers on a screen without realizing what that really means for families who are living it. She then introduced April Riddle who shared her story of what it means to be ALICE.
April talked of the struggles of being a single mom trying to take care of her kids, losing a job due to daycare issues, starting a cleaning business, managing credit card debt to survive, rent increases, taking a second job, and having a child with cancer. She talked about working hard but not being afraid to utilize government services and help from non-profit agencies who were there for her and her family when they needed it. She proudly announced that her older children all had college degrees, were married, and had homes of their own. She sincerely thanked the room for their part in making that happen.
She confessed, "You see I AM ALICE. For years men and women, a lot like me, have gotten up every day and worked hard to take care for their families. Yet, they are either without a home and living with family, in a hotel or their car or, like me, they are renting and just one car repair, medical crisis, or week of lost wages away from being homeless. This is a picture of being housing insecure. When I hear people make comments about the reason families and individuals struggle is because they're lazy, they're wasteful, and they didn’t plan well. I bow my head and pray. This may be the story of some of the people who look to receive assistance in our community. It is not my story, and it is not the voice of our community itself."
She closed by asking the crowd to use their voices to speak up for those who are unable to speak for themselves and to ponder and promote solutions to help to ease their burdens with things like affordable daycare, sustainable housing, and consistent food commodities.
Pat Conner returned to the podium to thank April for bravely sharing her story and to recognize the Workplace Coordinators in the room who work tirelessly to oversee the Workplace Giving Campaigns that support United Way of Sumner County. She also acknowledged representatives from the 30 UWSC funded partner agencies and thanked them for the work they do as the "boots on the ground in our community."
Michelle Rozell returned to the stage to invite the group to take the next steps in making Community Impact by signing-up to host a Workplace Giving Campaign; sponsor or attend the Fall Classic Golf Scramble or Gala in the Vineyard events; gather employees for a Day of Action volunteering with a UWSC agency; make a donation; or participate in one of the UWSC Community Drives.
Erin Birch closed the event by thanking the staff for the work they do and telling the crowd, "I hope you learned a little more about our community, the needs, and the resources available, I hope your empathy increased as you were inspired by the trial and triumph in the story of our friend April. I hope you are encouraged from celebrating others who give of themselves to help neighbors and strangers and I hope you feel empowered to join us in our work of Giving Advocating and Volunteering."