United Way of Wilson County volunteers got a pep talk Thursday at their annual cultivation and training breakfast at the Wilson Country Club.
“Volunteers are our organization. It’s run by staff, but volunteers run the campaign. They run the board of directors and they are responsible for outreach in the community,” said Matt Whitley, president of the United Way of Wilson County. “It’s totally up to our volunteers to make the United Way better and also the community.”
United Way director Judi Thurston, said volunteers keep the organization running.
Volunteers tell the United Way story and talk to their coworkers not only not only about donating to the United Way, but also which programs are available to them and their families
“It’s twofold,” Thurston said. “It’s raising money, but also raising awareness.”
“This is the 10th year that we have had the cultivation breakfast, so it’s a good way to kick off the campaign. The Pacesetter campaign starts Aug. 1, so this is a way to share best practices with organizations that run strong campaigns, so they can share the message and give some great hints on how to have fun in their campaign.”
Thurston said the organization has hundreds of volunteers.
“Each company might have a couple of coordinators, but in a company like Bridgestone or BB&T, there could be another 100 behind the scenes who are talking to their employees,” Thurston said.
Whitley said some $41 million had been raised since 1959 in Wilson County.
Nancy Sallenger, of the Wilson Crisis Center and a 25-year United Way supporter in North Carolina, said the breakfast brings the community together.
“All of the people who have campaigns or are thinking about a campaign, they get ideas from this, education and so forth,” Sallenger said. “They get ideas on how they can do fundraising and how they can get people involved in volunteering. Volunteers are essential.”
The theme this year is Standing Up for a Stronger Community.
“That’s what it’s all about because all of our people throughout the community come together, they stand up, they help through donations, through volunteering, which is priceless,” Sallenger said. “There is no dollar sign on that is it. This to me is Christmas in July for United Way when everybody comes together and shares.”
Sallenger said she loves to give to the community.
“With United Way, we do not enable. We lift people up, all ages, all races, all religions, men and women, so they can have a better life and that’s what we want,” Sallenger said. “When you see their faces and these people reach out their hands to help someone and lift them up, that’s the best reward you can have.”