August 26, 2013

Shaw kicks off United Way campaign

Submitted by the United Way of Northwest Georgia

— Under the leadership of Brenda Knowles, vice president of marketing and product development for Shaw Industries, the company recently kicked off its internal United Way campaign.

Kickoff events were held for Leadership and Young Leaders at Ryman Hall and a Women’s Leadership Council brunch at the Creative Arts Guild. At the kickoff meetings, Knowles, co-chair Chris Tarpley, Shaw executives, associates and United Way recipients shared stories about “filling gaps in the community” and “creating a better future.”

The first kickoff meeting for their leadership campaign featured Hal Long, Shaw’s executive vice president of operations and a long-time United Way supporter. Long’s message focused on taking action now to impact the future.

“Shaw people are the embodiment of the United Way and what it really means,” Long said. “Not just in the gift of money, but in the gift of time. All of us want to make a difference. ... All of us want to create a better future. All of us want to make a difference in our communities, such that we leave it a better place than we found it. We can only create a better future by doing something today. It is good for us to envision the future, because without that vision we don’t take action or have the context to see how what we are doing today fits in the bigger future. There is no way to get to a better place without doing something today.”

Long went on to reflect on his experience with United Way.

“I had the privilege of serving on the United Way board, the privilege of serving as the Shaw United Way campaign chairman and the privilege of serving on the United Way allocation committees,” he said. “During these experiences I saw great need, but I also saw the great capacity of our community to leverage the dollars that we have. I also have had the privilege to visit United Way-funded programs and homes where there is great need. Each time, I walked away with these three feelings: No. 1, a sense of great compassion for the individuals who are in the situation. No. 2, a thankfulness that I was able to give time and attention, rather than be on the receiving end. No. 3, a feeling that I wanted to do something about it. Together, we create a better future. We fill the gap.”

Attendees were some of the first in the community to view the new United Way video produced by Jim Lansing from Shaw Media Group. The video features stories of how United Way dollars are at work in our community, including Jonahs and his mom, who benefited from the Whitfield County-Dalton Day Care Center; Janie, who received shelter from abuse at the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center; and Eric, who received job training from Cross Plains Community Partner. All three of the agencies are funded programs of United Way of Northwest Georgia.

At the kickoff, Shaw associate Steven Jones, who volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Georgia Mountains, a United Way agency, shared his story about mentoring Nathan, his Little Brother who is in high school. Jones and Nathan enjoy golfing and attending baseball games and have been matched for six years.

At the second kickoff, which was focused on Young Leaders at Shaw Industries, Pete Sigmon, Shaw’s vice president of innovation, was featured. Sigmon had an easy call to action.

 “There are three things I would like to leave with you about my experience with United Way,” Sigmon said. “No. 1, of the most fulfilling things you can do in your life is to give with a caring heart. No. 2, if you give just a small amount of yourself to others, without worrying about what is in it for me, amazing things will happen. No. 3, Shaw associates have a great legacy with United Way.”

Sigmon encouraged Shaw’s young associates to serve.

“When my wife and I moved to Dalton in 1992, United Way was a great connecting point to get involved,” Sigmon said.

Debbie Conway, the director of Cross Plains Community Partner, spoke about the power of giving individuals with disabilities choice. Josh Killion, a Shaw strategic planning manager and Cross Plains board chair, said, “Cross Plains Community Partner and other United Way partner agencies can’t do what they do without United Way support. The agencies are also looking for the skills that young leaders have to serve in leadership capacities and volunteer.”

Following Killion, Alicia Hardey, a Project Search intern at Shaw Industries, took the stage. Project Search is a program of Cross Plains Community Partner, a United Way agency which assists high school students and recent graduates who have limited abilities with job training through internship placement. Alicia shared her story with the group.

“I am currently working at Shaw Plant 2 and Shaw Plant WD,” Hardey said. “At Plant WD I check the inventory and I do a little bit of the filing. I also thoroughly enjoy my time with Shaw Talent Acquisition. Project Search has meant everything to me. It gave me a chance to get out and get active. I feel like I am a part of Shaw Industries, that I am giving something back to the company; this joys me to no end. I am proud to call myself an intern of Project Search — Shaw.”

Susan Bramblett and Vicky Williams coordinate the logistics of Shaw Industries’ United Way campaign. During the next two weeks, Shaw Industries employees can log on to their corporate Intranet (Shaw and Me), attend a departmental campaign presentation or contact their human resources representative to make a United Way investment to improve education, basic needs and health in northwest Georgia.

To learn more about how you can help United Way, visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter @UnitedWayNWGA and watch the 2013 campaign video on YouTube.