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‘Working Toward A More Community Driven United Way’

The United Way of Halifax County held its annual meeting Thursday with the theme for the group going forward, working toward a more community driven United Way.

Guest Speaker Rev. William J. Coleman, president and CEO of Tri-County Community Action Agency, said many of the community’s needs could be met through the United Way and that the organization is most effective when helping other organizations work together.

Coleman said a community is where all human needs are met for the goodwill of all and that the United Way should focus on four items when looking at the community.

First there is identity, according to Coleman.  Up until recently possessions often defined how people identified themselves but with the recent economic hardship gripping the nation people are asking, “Who are we?”

Coleman said tough times allow people to focus on core things rather than material wealth.

This leads to relationships, Coleman explained, who shared a Swedish proverb: Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow. 

People in the community must work together, and he implored the audience to see themselves as their brother’s keeper.

Next, Coleman addressed functionality. 

“Does it work?” Coleman asked.  Coleman told an anecdote from his military days.  Coleman, who served in the Air Force, said the Army had planes, the Marines had planes, the Navy had planes, and the Air Force had planes.  When he suggested only one branch should have planes, he said, he was told that wasn’t a good idea.

“Everyone wants to have control,” Coleman said, noting that for the community to move forward, it would take a combined effort with many different organizations on the same page.

Lastly, Coleman spoke of impact.

“What if the United Way didn’t exist?” he asked.  Coleman said there would be a lot more suffering and needs being unmet. 

The United Way is about people reaching people, Coleman added, saying, “We have the capacity and willpower to get it done.

“It may be hard at times, but it’s not impossible,” he said.  “It takes vision.”

During the annual meeting several groups were presented with awards for their community involvement.

The Youth Empowerment and Mentoring Award was presented to 4-H, Miss Understood, the Blue Ridge Council of Boy Scouts, Project New Vision, Mentor-Role Model, Girl Scouts-Skyline Council and the South Boston/Halifax County YMCA.

The Promoting Education and Workforce Development Award was presented to the Halifax Volunteer Literacy Program and the Halifax County GED Testing Center.

The Promoting Safe Families and Crisis Intervention Award was given to the Mental Health Association of Halifax County, Doves Inc., the Halifax/Charlotte Chapter of the American Red Cross, Southside Outreach Group Inc., Tri-County Head Start Program, Healthy Families and the Salvation Army-Halifax Unit.

United Way Board Member awards were then presented to Lee Felton, Rev. Dave Cline, Holly Newton, Valdivia T. Marshall, Wayne Conner, Rev. Michelle Parker, Deborah Knight, Detra Carr and Denise T. Forest.  Three other board members who were unable to attend also were slated for the award.

During the business portion of the meeting four new board members, Loretta Faulkner, Patricia Taylor, Dave Williams and Lisa Francisco, were named to the board.