The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 11, 2014

Lofty goal

United Way of Southern W.Va. answers call to serve those in need

The United Way of Southern West Virginia does not have the reputation of backing away from challenges.

From easing the plight of people in our pockets of poverty, to helping children, to aiding the elderly, the charity has done so much to make our lives and our community better.

For many people, the funding and the volunteer work the United Way provides often goes mostly unseen — except by those in need who are direct beneficiaries of the organization’s spirit.

But this year, the challenge may be the biggest the organization has faced in some time.

Just off a successful campaign that met a goal of raising $525,000, next year’s ambitious target will be $825,000, a 57-percent increase.

Much of the funding target’s increase is due to the greater area that United Way of Southern West Virginia will be covering.

Following the removal of the tax-exempt status of United Way of the Virginias, United Way Worldwide withdrew its membership last December as financial irregularities were revealed within that chapter. United Way of Southern West Virginia quickly volunteered to expand its reach into Mercer and McDowell counties, and into Bluefield, Va.

Because the needs of the 50 non-profit agencies United Way serves in those areas remain.

The area of coverage expanded, but the United Way of Southern West Virginia is prepared to expand its fundraising into those areas, also.

We have no reason to believe that deserving organizations serving local needs in its traditional areas of operation will have to go without in order for the charity to serve its new charity.

Still, the major increase in its funding goals is an ambitious, and even daunting, undertaking.

Sherrie Hunter, director of education at the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, takes over as campaign chair for this year’s drive.

Hunter has faith not just in United Way to do its part, but in the generous spirit of southern West Virginians as well.

“Pennies turn into dollars and dollars turn into twenties, twenties turn into hundreds and hundreds turn into thousands,” Hunter told The Register-Herald.

Joining Hunter as vice chair this year is Dr. Brett Eckley, who is affiliated with Eckley Orthodontics with offices in Beckley, Oak Hill, Summersville and Pineville. Also joining the team this year is Teri Harlan, who will serve as director of resource development.

Eckley admits being “a little nervous” about being vice chair, but says when called to do God’s work, a person has to answer.

We heartily agree with Dr. Eckley. And we think that same call was made to the United Way of Southern West Virginia.

A call to serve the needy not just in its traditional areas of operation, but the poor, the sick, the elderly, the children and others in Mercer and McDowell, and in Bluefield, Va.

It’s the right thing.

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