The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 14, 2013

Historic achievement will help neighbors who need assistance

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — History was made Wednesday for the United Way of Southern West Virginia.

At the conclusion of the quarterly Board of Directors meeting, a press conference was held to announce that we had made our stated goal for the 2012/2013 giving campaign.

This announcement was historic for two reasons. First, it was the largest campaign goal that had ever been attempted for southern West Virginia. Secondly, because the goal was met and announced earlier than any time in history.

Just to remind everyone how big the goal was — it was $500,000! Yes, that’s a 5 and five zeros. I don’t know about how you look at it, but to me that is a BIG GOAL! And to help us cross over the finish line, the great folks and our newest car dealer in town, Crossroads Chevrolet, made an incredible donation of $10,000 because they believe in the work that is being done here in southern West Virginia.

That big goal would not have been attainable if it weren’t for the collaborative efforts of everyone in each of the five counties that we serve, Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Wyoming and Nicholas. That big goal wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the great work of our staff under the incredible direction of Margaret Ann O’Neal. It also wouldn’t have happened without all the volunteers who donated so much time to ensure we had enough money to meet needs.

For the past two years, I worked first as the vice chair and now the chair of these campaigns and I’ve always tried to stress that it’s not about the “goal,” it’s about the “needs.” The goal is just a number that we felt was a dollar amount that would ensure we meet the needs of the 32 agencies that we serve.

Those agencies have incredible people who do amazing work. Each of these is an area nonprofit that is underfunded, understaffed and underappreciated. That’s why it is so vital that the United Way is there to stand in the gap for people who can’t always help themselves.

Today, as I reflect back on my time as your Campaign chair, I say thank you for all of your encouragement. Every kind word about an article truly meant something to me. Every hour you donated was an investment in our great community. And every dollar was instrumental in ensuring we met that $500,000 goal.

Now you say, “What’s next?” Well, what’s next is that there are still needs to be met and my vice chair, Frank Wood, will now take the leadership baton to lead us to what I’m sure will be an even bigger goal for the next campaign. Trust me, with Frank we are in great hands!

I close with this. Last Monday night I came across this Scripture that I feel clearly and completely explains why we do what we do.

Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

It has been a pleasure to serve each of you and call you my friends. And as always, continue to Live & Give United!

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2012-2013 Campaign chair Richard Jarrell owns the two Chick-fil-A franchises in Beckley and is a member of the Raleigh County Board of Education.