03/01/13 — United in caring: It takes a community

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United in caring: It takes a community

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 1, 2013 1:46 PM

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Mary Bartlett, chairman of the United Way of Wayne County board of directors, shakes Winsor Ingram's hand during the United Way of Wayne County 2012 Annual Meeting. Ingram improved his literacy skills at Literacy Connections, one of the non-profit organizations the United Way of Wayne County supports.

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The Rev. Drew Clark, center, recipient of the Emil Rosenthal Volunteer of the Year Award, talks to United Way chairman Mary Bartlett, right, during the annual meeting of the United Way at Lane Tree Conference Center while his wife, Missy, listens.

Last year's United Way goal was to raise $1,234,000.

Only 92 percent came in, or $1,136,250, officials said.

Despite that, 2012 was a turning point for United Way -- introducing a strategic plan that has "laser-focus" on key community issues with long-term and sustainable strategies to address them.

Mary Bartlett, chairman of the board, likened the process to trying to lift a 1,000-pound log.

"(If I) needed to move it, that's impossible. But having 20 folks to move it, with all of us from United Way lifting our fair share," it could be accomplished, she told the audience at the organization's 2012 annual meeting, held Thursday at Lane Tree Conference Center.

Making a difference for large numbers must first start with making a difference for one, she said.

One example of that was Dr. Glenn Phillips, pastor of First Baptist Church in Goldsboro.

He recalled a request from a church member, Pat Yates, executive director of Literacy Connection, a tutoring program geared to adults. She simply wanted prayer for the program, he said.

"I decided if I was going to ask my folks to do that, I could at least give it some of my time," the pastor said.

"The first day I walked in and met Winsor Ingram, it went from me making a difference in his life to him making a difference in my life."

The relationship forged between the two men made 2012 a much more significant year, Phillips said.

"I met and claimed a friend," he said.

"I couldn't read," Ingram admitted when he took to the podium, giving a nod to Phillips and others who support United Way efforts. "They have taken the time to love me, not just to learn me to read.

"The difference that Mr. Glenn Phillips made in my life, y'all have definitely made a change in my life and my grandchildren's, that I can now read a story to them. You're doing a great thing and you have made a difference in my life and so many others."

Ms. Bartlett issued a challenge to surrounding communities from Mount Olive to Fremont and others in between to support United Way efforts in the coming year, then announced several initiatives being introduced.

"We are currently working on a financial literacy project which we will launch in May/June of this year which will create a new program in Wayne County with a foundation on providing financial literacy education with access to mainstream transactional banking products through another United Way initiative, Bank on Wayne," she said. "Another initiative we have launched, MyFreeTaxes, which enables people to access a web-based tool that is easy to easy, provided by H&R Block that enables eligible taxpayers to prepare and file their federal and state taxes online for free."

The site can be found at www.myfreetaxes.com/unitedwayne, she said.

The two-hour event was also an opportunity to recognize partnerships forged around the county and hand out some awards.

Steve Parr, United Way director, applauded agencies that have been especially supportive over the past year, including Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, Communities in Schools, Girl Scots, Partnership for Children, Salvation Army, Society of St. Vincent DePaul, WAGES, WATCH, Literacy Connection and Wayne Uplift Resource Association.

The former Campaign Chair award was renamed this year, to Spirit of Wayne, to reflect the various employers' commitment to the mission of United Way. Six employers were recognized in this category -- Anchor Coupling, Southco Distributing Co., Pittard Perry and Crone, Wayne Early/Middle College High School, Wayne Memorial Hospital and Cooper Standard Automotive.

The annual Volunteer of the Year award, the Emil Rosenthal Award, went to the Rev. Drew Clark, pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

A native of Minnesota, officials said since becoming involved with United Way in 2010, he has contributed much time serving on its strategic initiative committee and working to implement its strategic plan.

"It's a huge honor. This is about a team," he said, praising the United Way staff. "I just do what they tell me to do.

"It's really about the fact that it's an opportunity just to live out what you believe."