By Kathy Chaffin, salisburypost.com
Wednesday's Rowan County United Way Annual Awards Breakfast was a time of celebration.
There was lots of laughter, congratulations and applause as campaign leaders handed out more than 100 certificates, plaques and trophies to volunteers and participating employee groups.
Outgoing Campaign Chairman Chuck Elliott had to be out of town and couldn't be there to officially wrap up the 2008-2009 campaign, so he asked Board President Burt Brinson to relate his written message to the volunteers and agency representatives gathered at the Holiday Inn.
In his message, Elliott thanked the five Salisbury automotive dealerships for teaming up to offer a new car to a contributor for the fourth year in a row. He also thanked members of the cabinet, team leaders and business representatives, who he described as "the work horses of the campaign."
"My deepest sincere thanks go out to every individual who contributed to this campaign to help their neighbors," he wrote. "Be it a dollar a day, or week, a percentage of take home pay, a leadership or special gift, whatever the amount, it was a gift from the heart, and I want to tell them all how much I and our community appreciate your contributions."
With the final numbers in, Brinson said the campaign raised $1,887,603 — 96 percent of its $1,971,200 goal. "That in itself under this economic stress is an outstanding performance," he said.
There are many United Way agencies across the state which only collected 60, 70, 80 percent of their goals, he said, and would have been proud to have achieved 96 percent.
Brinson announced the campaign's special awards. The first two were for the Most Employee Spirit for companies with fewer than 100 employees and companies with more than 100.
Chandler Concrete was the winner of the Most Employee Spirit Award for companies with fewer than 100. Brinson said the company has strong leadership and ran a campaign with a high percentage of participation.
"No matter what we ask of them, they deliver," he said. "They have been instrumental in making sure our Day of Caring cost is at a minimum."
Brinson said Chandler Concrete also participates in special events, including the United Way's first soapbox derby race held in conjunction with last year's Sept. 5 kickoff during Downtown Salisbury's Friday Night Out.
Rowan Regional Medical Center received the award for Most Employee Spirit for companies with more than 100 employees. Brinson said Rowan Regional "got the United Way message to its employees by holding raffles, contests, jewelry sales, bake sales and other events."
The medical center also held a Health Fair for its employees, generating additional dollars through donations from participating partners. Rowan Regional also entered a car in the soapbox derby.
Julie Gainer accepted the plaque on behalf of the medical center.
The Most Improved Award went to Livingstone College, which had the highest percentage of increase in its employee campaign with 181 percent. The Rev. Juanita Allen accepted the plaque.
The Most Corporate Spirit Award went to Food Lion, which Brinson said participated in Allocations and Day of Caring in addition to being a major sponsor for the volunteer workday. The company also held "lunch and learn" meetings, printed the United Way brochure and sponsored its campaign video.
The Campaign Chairman's Achievement rotating trophy was presented to Catawba College
for its involvement of the chief executive officer, employee involvement, improvement in campaign and for getting the United Way message to employees.
Larry Farmer accepted the trophy on behalf of Catawba.
The Best Overall Campaign trophy, which also rotates from year to year, for companies with fewer than 100 employees went to Bank of North Carolina, which had a per capita donation of $982. Mark Lewis accepted the trophy.
The Best Overall Campaign rotating trophy for companies with more than 100 employees went to F&M Bank for its per capita donation of $434. Susan Giessler accepted the trophy.
The Campaign Award for Excellence rotating trophy for companies with fewer than 100 employees went to Community One Bank. The trophy is presented based on overall performance over a three-year period.
Community One Bank's total amount raised was $15,076. The employee per capita giving for 2006-2007 was $272, increasing to $307 in 2007-2008 and $347 in 2008-2009. The percentage of participation was 97 percent.
The winner of the Campaign Award for Excellence for companies with more than 100 employees was Performance Fibers, which raised a total of $70,432. The employee per capita giving in 2006-2007 was $53.35, increasing to $83.17 the following year and $98.50 in 2008-2009.
The percentage of participation increased from 11 percent to 51 percent.
Pat Stellute accepted the rotating trophy on behalf of Performance Fibers.
Certificates of appreciation were presented to 14 Bronze Award winners, 15 Silver Award winners, 14 Gold Award winners, 11 Chairman's Award winners and 55 President's Award winners — all of them based on the employee group's per capita giving.
Certificates were also presented to the seven Pacesetter companies which began their campaigns in advance of the general campaign to "Set the Pace."
Also recognized at the awards breakfast were the United Way board members, agency representatives, campaign cabinet, the Salisbury automotive dealerships participating in the car giveaway, account managers, campaign auditors, PR Committee and speaker's bureau members, Day of Caring site managers, Kickoff Committee members and Sponsors' Fund members.
Special recognition was given to the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, Food Lion, VA Medical Center, Social Security and U.S. Post Office, Piedmont Natural Gas, Robertson Foundation and Downtown Salisbury for their support of the campaign.
Members of the Rowan County United Way staff were given a standing ovation.
The breakfast was sponsored by Citizens South, Duke Energy and Cloninger Ford-Toyota.