United Way Presents Annual Awards During Virtual Celebration

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United Way of Henderson County (UWHC) announced the recipients of distinguished awards to community leaders and corporate giving partners at its virtual Annual United Way Celebration April 21, 2021. 

“While we couldn’t gather in person this year, we wanted to celebrate the great things that support from individuals and companies made possible last year amid an ongoing pandemic,” said UWHC Executive Director Denise Cumbee Long.

Three awards were presented to individuals receiving special recognition: 

The Rob and Ginger Cranford Community Service Award is presented annually to an individual or couple who exemplify the extraordinary community service that Rob and Ginger Cranford demonstrated throughout their lives. This year’s Cranford Award honored McCray and Judy Benson. McCray Benson has been the President and CEO of Community Foundation of Henderson County since 2005. Judy Benson, who died last June, spent her career as a licensed clinic social worker and mental health therapist. 

“When the pandemic hit last spring, McCray and his team partnered with United Way staff to create the COVID-19 Response Fund which raised and distributed over $440,000 to local nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic,” noted Long.  

The Edward C. Brisley, Jr. Award is named for a beloved former Executive Director of United Way of Henderson County, and is presented for outstanding volunteer service. This year’s Brisley Award was given to Dr. Jan King. Dr. King recently retired as Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services at Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) after almost 30 years serving the students and staff at HCPS in various roles.  King is also a member of Women United and one of the founders of the Girls EMpowered (GEM) mentoring program benefitting girls at three local schools.

The Outstanding Philanthropist Award, a new award in 2021, was presented to former North Carolina State Senator Chuck McGrady and his wife Jean. This award recognized the McGrady family’s generous $100,000 gift to kickstart the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and acknowledged their ongoing support and commitment to the community, particularly as the pandemic crisis took hold last Spring. 

The Annual Celebration also included the presentation of annual campaign awards, given to companies that went above and beyond during a particularly challenging campaign season to continue support of their community through employee and corporate giving to United Way:

The United Way Employee Giving Award, in recognition of highest overall employee contributions, was presented to Wilsonart International. The United Way Outstanding Campaign Giving Award, in recognition of outstanding contributions to the 2020 Campaign, was presented to Meritor, Inc.

The United Way LiveUnited Awards, given in recognition of model employee campaigns that are making a significant impact in Henderson County, were presented to Kimberly-Clark Corporation; GE Current, a Daintree Company; and Printpack, Inc.

The United Way RiseUnited Awards, given in recognition of companies making a big impact in Henderson County through diversified support of United Way programs and initiatives, were presented to Champion Comfort Experts, Morrow Insurance Agency, Vulcan Materials Co. and Beverly-Hanks & Associates of Hendersonville.

Special recognition was also given to the 2020 Campaign Co-Chairs, Ruth Birge and Henry Johnson, for their leadership and dedication to serving United Way and the community throughout the campaign, as well as United Way’s 2020 Gold Campaign Sponsors, Wilsonart, AdventHealth, and Gaia Herbs. 

The Annual United Way Celebration of impact and presentation of awards can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/W7a00pSJV-0.