The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 31, 2012

Recalling the year that was 2012

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — What an eventful year it has been here at the United Way of Southern West Virginia. As the year started back in January, we were able to announce that we met the goal established for the 2011 Campaign which was $440,000. This goal was not only the largest ever attempted by our Board, but it was also the earliest date to actually meet the goal.

This year as I have taken on the role of Campaign chairman, I have lived and experienced all the wonderful events that go along with the work of the United Way here in southern West Virginia. Here are a few of the great things that happened in 2012:

- Celebrity Night — This was the 24th year for this great event that partners with one of our agencies, the Women’s Resource Center. And yes, we were able to raise the most money ever! We even had a true celebrity in Landau Eugene Murphy present at the Glade Springs location. A true treat!

- Golf events — We hosted four different golf events in the area. Events for ladies and seniors and events in Fayette and Raleigh counties.

- Dancing with the Stars — Our newest event that turned out to be the event of the year for all of southern West Virginia. Ten local celebrities donated their time to learn to dance like they’ve never danced before. And as they danced, they helped us to raise about $50,000 for our 32 local charities.

- Fright Night — Hosted by The Resort at Glade Springs, this has grown into quite the event around the Halloween season. This year’s event was centered around zombies along the trails through Glade Springs. Attendance has quadrupled over the last three years, and nearly $5,000 was raised for the United Way.

- Wonderland of Trees — Our fourth annual event found a new home this year at Lewis Automotive, and the huge showroom there was perfect to show off all 54 trees that were decorated, displayed and auctioned off. Nearly $35,000 was raised this year.

These events are the “fun” things that we do! Are they hard to pull off? You better bet they are and we couldn’t do them without the many, many volunteers who donate their time and talent to ensure they happen.

However, there is the reality of what we do, as well.

The reality of this work is that there are people out in our five counties who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. They don’t know where their children will lay their heads tonight. And they don’t know how they can pay their utility bill before their heat is turned off. New mothers who are in need of formula, car seats and diapers go to one of our agencies with baby pantries. This is not the “fun” part, but it is the necessary and rewarding part of what the United Way of Southern West Virginia is about.

I always close out each article asking you to “Live and Give United.” What this really means is that we are willing to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It means that we are willing to invest in our friends, neighbors and communities, not just during the holidays, but all year long.

Today is the last day of 2012 and I ask you to look into your heart and be a part of this great work. We are still short of our goal for this campaign and just ask you to make a pledge by calling our office at 304-253-2111. By doing this you “will” be part of Living and Giving 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.