United Way of Henderson County (UWHC) celebrated its 70th anniversary with approximately 175 people attending an event at Trailside Brewery on September 26th. Founded in September of 1953, United Way has partnered with individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations through the years to raise over $60 million to help improve education, health, financial stability and basic needs in Henderson County.
“In 1953, a group of Henderson County citizens had a new vision for meeting community needs. These men and women banded together to create the Henderson County United Fund,” said United Way Executive Director Denise Cumbee Long. “Seventy years later, we are still pursuing and expanding on this vision: bringing people and resources together and growing and evolving to meet the changing circumstances of our time.”
During the program, former board members, staff, and volunteers were recognized, and some of them reflected on their experiences with United Way.
Dr. John Bryant, a former board chair, proclaimed that “United Way is a force multiplier for good. It is a multiplier for giving, for advocacy, and for volunteerism. I’m so glad that I’ve been part of this organization to see what 70 years of awesome looks like!”
Colonel Henry Johnson, who served as United Way’s executive director from 2000 to 2006, reflected on the past and some of the positive changes over the year. “I am so pleased at how United Way is doing now and how they have improved their programs, vision and initiatives. I’ve been supporting United Way for 26 years now, and it always makes me feel good.”
Mark Warwick, a former UWHC board chair and owner of WTZQ radio, noted that he interviews many local nonprofit leaders each week on the Friday United Way moment. “It is remarkable”, said Warwick, “that when asked what their program would look like without United Way support, most of them say that the program would not exist or that it would be greatly diminished. This is why United Way is so important in our community.”
Three awards were announced during the evening for individuals receiving special recognition:
The Rob and Ginger Cranford Community Service Award, sponsored by Morrow Insurance Company, honored Jan Witte for exceptional community service. Witte was a former United Way board member and volunteer who died in December of 2022. The Edward C. Brisley, Jr. Award, sponsored by Ken Adams at Edward Jones was presented to Barbara Platz, a volunteer at United Way of Henderson County for over 20 years, including 12 years as a member of the Board. The Community Champion Award was presented to Barbara Volk, Mayor of Hendersonville, for her longstanding civic engagement and support of the community.
United Way also announced campaign awards to companies that excelled in their support of the wider community through employee and corporate giving to United Way in 2022: Premier Cornerstone Award to Wilsonart, Power of Partnership Award to Cummins-Meritor, Change Maker Award to Kimberly-Clark at Berkley Mills, and Live United Award to Publix.
“For over 70 years, United Way has been our community’s choice for impactful giving,” said Long. “And we have only been able to succeed because of the generous support of many partners. This celebration is one way for us to say ‘Thank You!’.