MOUNT VERNON — “Everyday we live united. Underneath everything we do, we are all people connected, interdependent, united. When we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s what it means to Live United,” said Jen Odenweller, executive director of the Knox County United Way, as she kicked off the UW annual meeting Thursday afternoon.
Odenweller took the opportunity to explain some of the many successful programs funded through United Way but it was the information shared by Charlie and Kelly Brenneman, campaign co-chairs, that was the highlight of the meeting.
“Given these very tough economic times, we are very fortunate in Knox County to have the end of the campaign within sight. This is a very good place to be right now,” said Kelly Brenneman.
The top five corporate contributors were recognized. They are: Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors, $37,063; Rolls-Royce, $39,277.20; Kokosing Construction Co., $74,442; First-Knox National Bank, $78,600; and Ariel Corp., $90,960.
Following Thursday’s meeting, $7,000 was added to an already generous pledge bringing the projected campaign total to $670,164.23 — surprassing the campaign goal of $670,000.
“This means we now have a second Alexis de Tocqueville giver who personally invests $10,000 or greater in United Way,” Odenweller said this morning.
The funds raised during the campaign help the United Way fund hundreds of programs throughout the year, most with amazing results.
“Since 1951, United Way has served Knox County. We refer to the work we do as ‘advancing the common good.’ Together we accomplish much more than any of us can do alone,” Odenweller said.
The good she spoke of included the 2008 Challenge Grants used for “start-up or expansion programs that aim to impact financial stability or early learning,” she said.
The Life Skills 101 Curriculum Expansion Project of Care Net Pregnancy Services of Knox County educated 93 clients, both males and females, between 14 and 29 years old, about financial, time management and basic lifestyle decisions.
The Financial Peace University program, developed by Dave Ramsey, graduated 17 families from a 13-week course at Center Pointe Church that set them well on their way to being debt-free.
The final recipient of last year’s Challenge Grants was the Knox County Head Start’s Handwriting Without Tears “Get Set for School” Program. This innovative approach to teaching is helping preschoolers learn to write their letters and “develop foundational skills for school success, using movement and music, along with hands-on learning materials.”
In addition to the $5,000 Challenge Grants, United Way distributed nearly $500,000 last year to 23 different partner agencies. Just some of that funding went to:
•Helping Children and Youth Success, $156,809.
•Promoting Self-Sufficiency, $31,100.
•Supporting Vulnerable and Aging Populations, $84,180.
•Strengthening and Supporting Families, $178,702.
•Core Community Services, $41,298.
Odenweller celebrated Bob Woodward’s dedication to the United Way, especially during his 27 consecutive years as board member. Woodward passed away earlier this month.
Jan Thomas was announced as a new Fund Distribution Committee member. Vicki Carney and Doug Leonard were nominated and approved as board trustee members.
Following the annual meeting, 2009 officers were approved. They are Marsha Rinehart, president; Joel Daniels, first vice president; Kathy Swihart, second vice president; Alicia Freeman, treasurer. Dan Shrimplin was named fund distribution committee chair. Doug Leonard and Mark Leonard were named 2009 campaign co-chairs.