United Way of Sevier County meets $400K goal for 2014

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 11:56 PM

United Way of Sevier County reached its fundraising goal for the campaign year Tuesday night at the group's annual Leadership Dinner at Music Road Hotel.

Over $50,000 was raised through the dinner and auction to help support the agency's community partners, which provide some of the most needed services in Sevier County.

"I think it went fabulously," Amy Harper, United Way's executive director, said of the evening's events. "We're really encouraged. A lot of people are really supporting us. It was really great."

The large chunk of funding helped send the group's 2013 campaign to the goal threshold of $400,000.

"We had a lot of trust to rebuild, and a lot of results to show, and we did make our goal for the rebuilding year," R.B. Summitt, the group's 2014 campaign chair, said. "I really think we really should exceed this year's goal because of the foundation that we've built here."

Mike Comer, the executive vice president, COO and a new board member of Citizens National Bank, was announced as chair for the upcoming campaign, which will have a goal of $500,000.

"Tonight we've talked about leadership ... and it is all about leadership," Comer said. "Do you realize that 18 months ago United Way was virtually out of business? But through leadership and commitment — look around this room right now, look at the attendance here tonight — if you're on this board right now, you brought it back. We are back strong."

In all, 15 nonprofits receive funds from the Sevier County United Way, including Mountain Hope Good Sherherd Clinic, which provides free medical services for the poor; Douglas Cooperative, which provides an variety of services to individuals with disabilities; Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, a facility that helps abused children; and SafeSpace, which provides services for victims of domestic abuse.

Tuesday night's dinner featured speakers Al Wilson and Jeff Hall, team captains from the 1998 University of Tennessee National Championship football team.

The pair shared tales of their playing time, along with their beliefs on the meaning of leadership.

In addition to commitments , a number of items were sold in a competitive auction to raise further funding for the organization.

A pair of seven-day trips to the Dominican Republic, complete with use of a car, ATVs and housekeeping in a coastal mansion, netted $12,000 for the cause, while trips to Chicago and New York also fetched big money. The sale of athletic memorabilia from Wilson and former NFL coach Bill Bates, a one-time Sevier County High School head coach, also brought in funding for the organization.

"It was a wonderful turnout that represented the whole county, border to border, from up toward Cobbly Nob all the way to Seymour and out toward Kodak," Summitt said. "I'm excited for United Way going forward."

Summitt was given a special award by the group for his service as chair of the annual campaign, while Emily Whaley, Lauren Chesney, Austin Williams, Kelly DeBord, Ken Simonis, David Wear, John Mathews and Russell Treadway were also honored for their service as chairpeople of different areas of Sevier County.

Elaine Gunter, of Douglas Cooperative, was named Community Partner Volunteer of the Year, and Earl and Margit Worsham for their work with the Alexis De Tocqueville Society, which pays all administrative overhead for the local United Way efforts.

Allen Newton, who put together Tuesday night's event, was also awarded by the United Way of Sevier County for his accomplishments for the group.