September 18, 2013

Superheroes wanted

United Way plans $3.5 million campaign

Rachel Brown

— $3.5 million.

That’s how much the United Way of Northwest Georgia hopes to raise to benefit a list of approved agencies, including some charity organizations, day care centers, programs for the elderly and shelters.

United Way leaders announced the goal at their 2013 campaign kickoff event at the trade center on Tuesday. Dubbed a “Super Power Lunch,” organizers showed videos featuring ordinary businessmen and women and advised would-be contributors that “You don’t have to wear a cape to be a superhero.”

Keynote speaker Alison Lebovitz, a TV personality and author who is actively involved in the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, told the roughly 300 audience members stories about generous giving, including some from her own children who were so enthusiastic they urged their parents to match their donations.

Lebovitz said helping individuals matters deeply in building a better community.

“Only when the individual is smarter and healthier and employed and happy and hopeful does the community benefit,” she said.

To that end, anyone, she said, can be a superhero by giving financially, volunteering their time or just advocating for the cause.

Corporate-sponsored superhero banners hung in the trade center for the kickoff and will be displayed throughout the campaign along Walnut and Thornton avenues in Dalton and Highway 411 in Chatsworth.  

United Way President Amanda Burt said there have been some great successes through United Way, but the need is still there. That’s one reason the organization decided to up its campaign from the previous year’s $3.35 million goal to $3.5 million.

Andrea Mansfield of United Way said organizers based the goal at least partly on early campaigns that are usually indicative of how the rest of the year will go.

This year’s United Way Campaign Chairman Bob Ringer was assisted by cabinet members Mark Buckner of Dalton Utilities, Amy Cole of Kinard Realty, Bill Davies of BB&T, John Minor and Ken Mishoe of Minor Bell & Neal, Patty Mooney of Alliance National Bank, Matthew Moore of Shaw Industries, Stuart Nelson of Brown Industries, Kevin Sanders of Shaw Industries, community volunteer Doug Squillario, Chris Yarbrough of Shaw Industries and Joe Yarbrough of Mohawk Industries. The account executives are Julia Davidson and Sandra Derrick.

Organizers plan to announce their fundraising totals in the spring.

There are a number of ways to become involved in United Way. For more information, visit The next major event is the Superhero Sprint & CEO Trike Race on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Dalton Freight Depot.