United Way luncheon honors contributors

The Nolan County United Way's Loyal Contributors Luncheon was held on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at the Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) training classroom.Following the convocation by Martin Baker, a welcome was given by Executive Director Wendy Smartt. Beverly Campbell then introduced the officers and members of the Board of Directors.Kirby Andrews, one of the board members, collectively thanked the hospital's food staff, along with those in attendance representing the agencies and contributors for their work and support over the past year. Andrews shared that the past year was special in remembering a former member of the United Way board, Charles Roberson. Roberson passed away recently, but Andrews recollected on the love he had for the community and the United Way which can serve as an example to everyone involved in the local effort.Andrews stated that he hoped that those involved would continue encouraging and assisting the local United Way. The United Way strives to give back to the community; the agencies assisted are interviewed and researched in order to ensure that the funds will be used within the community, for its citizens.Smartt then recognized the agencies who benefit from the United Way, in which a representative spoke on how the organization met their needs. Cancer Services Network assists people that have been robbed of life's opportunities through the disease. In 2011, they were able to reach 34 clients in Sweetwater and offered over $6,000 in services.The Women's Resource Center made 600 contacts in 2011 through help given by the United Way. The volunteer-run program helps women who are pregnant and/or have small children through clothing, vouchers, baby gifts and with food, among other assistance.The local Girl Scouts have been very busy over the past year by participating in local parades and flash mobs, selling tickets at local events, their involvement in restoring the pool at Camp Boothe Oaks, and painting the downtown Color Wheel all while learning life and leadership skills.109 girls and 62 adults took part last year in the Girl Scouts in Nolan County. Two local Girl Scout members were at the luncheon, in which one girl spoke of the fun and learning experiences she's had in her five years of involvement.The Big Country Medical Reserve Corps (BCMRC) currently have 35 active volunteers with a membership around 100, and they have undergone 1,000 hours of donated training to assist in medical disasters, search and rescue efforts. Their goal in the next year is to engage youth into their program.SNAP (Senior Nutrition Activities Program), unfortunately, has seen funding cuts and are in a temporary building, which has led to a decrease in numbers. However, the United Way's assistance has allowed for the local "Meals on Wheels" program to reach out to local seniors.Gateway Family Services, a center that helps family violence and sexual assault victims, has an outreach office in Sweetwater while serving a five-county area. Last year, with help from the United Way, they were able to reach almost 800 people; 200 of those were from Nolan County.The West Texas Children's Advocacy Center (WTCAC) works alongside local law enforcement, Child Protective Services and the District Attorney's office in conducting investigations on children who have been abused and/or neglected. Through the assistance of the United Way, the WTCAC was able to make 38 school presentations over the past year and conduct 88 forensic interviews.In addition, the interdisciplinary staff that the WTCAC participates in with other entities was able to ensure that 211 cases would be covered, thanks in part to the local organization.The Boy Scouts are able to reach 100 youth within the county lines as they strive to instill moral values. They have been able to make facility expansions at Camp Tonkawa while also maintaining their two area properties.Finally, Sweetwater Backpack Buddies--the latest agency helped by the United Way, has been able to offer 68 kids within the school district nutritional snacks to take home for nourishment during the weekend. On occasions, hygiene items, undergarments and other clothes are given as well.But the summer months don't stop the assistance Backpack Buddies gives to hungry students. This summer, founder Leah Andrews was at the city pool making sandwiches for kids in need.Following the agency presentations, Smartt announced the top contributors of 2012. Two of the contributors assisted the United Way in their newest fundraiser, the raffling of a shotgun during this past year's Rattlesnake Round-up. They were Crane Service, Inc. and WETS (Wind Energy Turbine Services).Other top contributors to the Nolan County United Way were the City of Sweetwater, Atmos Energy, Texas National Bank, Ludlum Measurements, First Financial Bank and Trust, and Oncor.The top two contributors of 2012 were then announced, with Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital taking the top spot, followed by the Sweetwater Independent School District. In her closing remarks, Smartt shared that the loyalty displayed by all contributors to the organization has been above and beyond, resulting in success. To continue with that success, giving is the theme for the upcoming year with the title "Give Where You Live" in order to help all walks of life throughout the county.She also urged attendees to share the cause of the United Way to others, and reminded contributors of the $85,000 goal set for the upcoming year. Any little bit helps, as the organization runs solely on pledges and is run by volunteers.Upcoming events for the United Way include their 3rd annual golf tournament to be held in October 27; this year's event will honor former board member Charles Roberson. They will also be participating in this year's Rattlesnake Round-up again, and they are currently planning a spring-time event for ladies as well as for small businesses.