08/06/08 — Taste of Wayne proves to be a tasty time

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Taste of Wayne proves to be a tasty time

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 6, 2008 1:37 PM

With Thai and Chinese, pizza and pasta and Guinness stew and barbecue, there wasn't a taste bud at the annual Taste of Wayne County that wasn't satisfied Tuesday evening.

But the best part of the annual United Way campaign kickoff event wasn't a sticky bun from JJ Ashley Bakery or a sprinkled doughnut from Krispy Kreme.

The best part was that, while the crowd of about 1,000 people sampled some of the best food around, they were helping their neighbors.

The event was filled with a sense of community.

"Wayne County's diversity is one of our greatest strengths," said Bethany Perry, who is co-chairman of the campaign, along with her husband, David. "We are urban and rural. We farm, work in factories, offices and classrooms. ... We all share striking similarities and needs. That's what we're about here. United Wayne -- coming together to better lives."

Mrs. Perry noted the large number of people whose lives have been improved by help from United Way, including young people, the elderly and families struggling to make ends meet.

Retired pastor George Lee spoke during the opening ceremonies, saying he and his wife had been helped by United Way when their medication costs became prohibitive. They discovered how WAGES, one of the agencies supported by United Way, could help defray some of their medical costs.

"I'm here today to sing the praises, wear the T-shirt and let my little potbelly sort of stick out," Lee told the crowd. "I'm so thankful the United Way stepped in the gap and said, 'We will help.'"

Lee said he is hoping others contribute to United Way's campaign so that more people's lives can be touched by the organization. The campaign's goal this year is to raise $1.42 million, which officials say is enough to benefit more than 28,000 county residents.

"That's 25 to 26 percent of the people in this county," David Perry said. "Together we can get this done."

Some individuals and groups have already started their contributions -- the Frontrunners of the campaign -- who have raised $198,525 to date.

A few of the Frontrunners include Wayne Community College, which raised just under $14,000, Daniels and Daniels Construction Co., which raised $9,440, Century Insurance, which raised more than $12,000, and Goldsboro Builders Supply, which raised $9,125.

So far, there has been a 17 percent increase in corporate contributions over last year at this time, and a 20 percent increase in employee contributions.