The United Way of Central Arkansas hosted the 2017 CEO Luncheon on Sept. 21 at Centennial Valley Country Club Event Center, kicking off the upcoming and current campaigns benefiting United Way’s 20 partner agencies with 28 funded programs.

These programs address a variety of topics within health, education, and/or financial stability.

Programs include helping with youth development, developmental delays, elderly, transitional housing, preschool readiness and a wide range of others.

United Way Board President Bret Carroll and Executive Director Maret Cahill-Wicks welcomed more than 120 leaders of the community in attendance on Thursday. Chad Russell gave an overview of last year’s campaign. Last year’s goal was $575,000 and $635,000 has been pledged.

Russell said that local campaigns were up 3.2 percent and 58 percent of Central Arkansas’ campaign comes from corporate campaigns.

He also said that individual Pillars were up 11 percent and almost 19 percent of United Way of Central Arkansas campaign comes from individual givers.

Overall, last year sponsorships for United Way events collected $44,500.

Linda Linn, honorary campaign chair, gave the preview of this year’s campaign.

The goal for the 2017-2018 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."

She encouraged the attendees to become pillars and to get involved with United Way including going back to their businesses and encouraging their employees to give.

Carroll presented the United Way commercial featuring Karson Prince filmed and produced by Conway Corporation. He spoke of United Way’s recent acquirement of Van Buren County and the corporations and organizations that set the pace for this year’s campaign including CAPCA, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Conway Corporation, Conway Human Development Center, Conway School District, Faulkner County Council on Aging, Greenbrier School District, Insight Enterprise, JSI Metal, Kimberly Clark, Mayflower Public Schools, Mount Vernon-Enola School District, Target and UPS.

Cahill-Wicks spoke of two programs United Way is funding, which are Charity Tracker and The Free Tax Preparation Program.

Charity Tracker has been in place for three years and is used to assist residents of Faulkner and Perry counties. It allows individuals to manage their financial needs as well as allowing United Way to post needs for individuals and households in the community.

The Free Tax Preparation Program will be held on Feb. 3, 2018, and will allow households or individuals making $54,000 or less to receive free tax preparation.

Jennifer Welter, executive director of CAPCA, spoke representing all the agencies.

She spoke of the two programs that United Way provides funding to operate.

These programs are the 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.

The following are the businesses within Faulkner and Perry counties that were recognized at the 2017 CEO Luncheon:

• Community Partner with the biggest heart — CAPCA.

• School District with the Biggest Heart Award — Conway Public Schools.

• College Campus with the Biggest Heart Award — University of Central Arkansas.

• Campaign Coordinator with the biggest heart — Bonnie Holloway and Adam Thomas (Kimberly Clark).

• Most Improved Campaign of the Year — First Security Bank.

• Rookie of the Year — Log Cabin Democrat.

• Small Campaign of the year — JV Manufacturing.

• Mid-Sized Campaign of the Year — First Security Bank.

• Large Campaign of the Year — Kimberly Clark.

• President’s Award — Chase Blackwell (Tritechne Inc.).

• Business Partner with the biggest heart — Nabholz.

The last speaker of the day was Steve Presley, who spoke of Virco’s involvement with United Way for 40 years.

He spoke of how over the years some of the passion has faded but they are bringing that passion back.

Virco has committed to United Way of Central Arkansas as a Community Investment Partner and he challenged the other businesses members in the community to do the same.

For more information, call the United Way office at 501-327-5087. To donate, visit