United Way of Central Arkansas is celebrating its 60th year of helping those in need, and the organization doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
A Denver woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized a need for cooperative action to help others, and started the first United Way 130 years ago in Colorado.
Seventy years later, Faulkner County Community Fund was created, and after going through a couple of name changes, became United Way of Central Arkansas (UWCA).
No matter what you call it, UWCA is dedicated to serving the residents of Faulkner, Perry and Van Buren Counties in Arkansas.
"You give locally, and it stays local," said UWCARK Executive Director Maret Cahill Wicks.
Wicks sat down with the Log Cabin and explained how the 2017 campaign is kicking off.
The organization held its CEO Luncheon on September 21 at Centennial Valley Country Club Event Center, where Wicks, along with Board President Bret Carroll, welcomed more than 120 leaders of the community.
Linda Linn, honorary Campaign chair, gave the preview of this year’s campaign. The goal for the 2017-18 United Way campaign is $650,000. Linn spoke on how change has come a long way but that there is still a lot of change yet to come. She said, "If we leave here today with just a few ideas of how we can work together to create value for the United Way agencies who serve our community, I think that our time will have been well spent."
Jennifer Welter, Executive Director of CAPCA, spoke representing all the agencies. She spoke of the two programs to which United Way provides operational funds. These programs are: Emergency Food that handles the Food Pantry; and an Emergency Shelter program. The food pantry provides food boxes that can feed a household for a week. The emergency shelter program provides a hotel stay and first months or past due rental or mortgage assistance.
This week, Wicks shared what lies ahead for the organization.
"October 26 is our Pillar Party," said Wicks, "Pillar party is for the people who give $1,000 over the course of a year. It’s only about $20 a week, so you’re really only giving up a pizza."
Twenty-five hosts fund the Pillar Party, so that no funds from United Way are used.
"That’s helpful, because we don’t want to spend somebody else’s money paying for that," commented Wicks.
A Pillar donor gives at least a total of $1,000 by employee payroll deduction, one-time giving, installment payments, check or credit cards within one calendar year.
The purpose of the United Way of Central Arkansas Pillars Society is to encourage and recognize philanthropy in Faulkner, Perry and Van Buren Counties.
This year’s United Way Pillar Party will be held at the home of Andrea and Jeff Woods from 6 to 9 p.m.
"Next thing that is coming up is the Turkey Trot on November 23," Wicks said.
Turkey Trot is a 5k family fun run and walk held on Thanksgiving Day at Centennial Valley Country Club.
This is the third year UWCA will host the 5k fun run.
During its first year, the run turned out about 350 people.
That number more than doubled last year with about 750 people in attendance, and this year is expected to have about 1,000 people present.
"Its really interesting to see how whole families come out. From grandmas and grandpas to toddlers in strollers," Wicks said, "We also encourage people to dress up like turkeys, chefs, Pilgrims, Indians or anything really!"
Lastly, on the current agenda is Giving Tuesday on November 28, "Giving Tuesday is the second-largest giving day in America. The first being Dec 31," explained Wicks.
"We are going to make pages on our website so our agencies can do it as well. There will be thermometers to track the donations, and they are going to challenge people to give. We are trying to raise quite a bit of money."
Some agencies are asking for as much as $50,000.
The 2017 UWCA campaign is off to a steady start, and the organization is excited to see what their 60th year has in store.