story and photos by Nancy Peevy, special to The City Wire
Heroes were in abundance at the United Way 2014 campaign kickoff and appreciation event on Thursday (Aug. 29) at Fast Lane Entertainment in Lowell. The theme of the kickoff was “What This Place Needs is Everyday Heroes.”
Everyone who supports United Way in any way is a hero, said Mary Wormington, United Way vice president of resource development.
“There are so many needs in our community that we need people to be that hero. Not just to go and save lives, but to spread the word about what United Way does, how we affect the community.“
She said heroes range from the person who packs hygiene kits to the child in need who receives them.
“They are all among us, we just have to identify them,” Wormington said.
One hero, singled out on Thursday, was Shannon Williams. She received the United Way 2014 Volunteer Award for her work with Stuff the Bus, an annual event that collects school supplies for low-income children. She said she has been a part of that program in Madison County for the past seven or eight years and has enjoyed seeing how that event has brought her community together to serve others.
Dan Skoff, emcee of the event told the crowd that everyday heroes, like Shannon, are important. Skoff said he volunteers his time to help with the United Way’s Stuff the Bus program in the summer.
Along with Stuff the Bus, the kickoff on Thursday also highlighted Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. It is a program presented by the United Way, where any newborn in Northwest Arkansas can be registered to receive a free book each month for the first five years of their life.
“This child will get one every month to prepare them for school and can develop a love for books, a love for reading, “Wormington said. “If they can read, then that is a clear path to exploring so many other different things.”
These are only two of a wide array of programs that United Way provides, according to their website.
Their objective is to help hardworking families by funding programs that provide education, income, health and a safety net for people to have a better life, according to their 2014 campaign video.
Last year United Way raised $3.75 million to fund their programs and they are hoping to increase that amount this year.