United Way celebrates reaching $75,000 goal


BUCKHANNON – The executive director of the United Way of Upshur, Lewis and Gilmer counties had a reason to celebrate Friday night.

Becky Sias, who oversees the network of 19 nonprofit organizations, said the United Way met its goal of raising $75,000 for its members in February – a month early – at the organization’s annual elimination dinner Friday. The event – complete with dinner, live auctions and silent auctions –  took place at Stonewall Resort at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The United Way’s campaign typically runs from September through March.

“This is our big fundraiser,” Sias said. “This is also to celebrate us meeting our goal of raising $75,000 in February.” Approximately 250 people attended the star-studded event, the theme for which was “Hollywood Nights.”

The mission of the tri-county agency, the headquarters of which is located in G.J. Garton Plaza in Weston, is to raise funds for nonprofit agencies in Upshur, Lewis and Gilmer counties.

“For a lot of nonprofit agencies, this is a big part of the money they receive,” Sias said. “That money comes through corporate donations and employee designations.

“The event this year has been wonderful,” she added of the dinner. “We have new things we’re doing this year that we’ve not done before. It’s not just an elimination dinner, but we have live and silent auctions, and the prizes were all donated by our member agencies.”

The most rewarding part of heading up the United Way?

“I know that the money that we raise stays here in our local community,” Sias said.

Lori Ulderich Harvey, executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network, said the funds generated from the United Way greatly benefit the FRN.

“The United Way provides funds that we can use at our discretion for activities around the community as well as basic office supplies,” Harvey said. “It’s great that we have it because our grants have been cut in recent years. Without this funding, we wouldn’t be able to have some community activities that we do like the blessing bags for families, National Night Out and Rachel’s Challenge.”

Matt Kerner, executive director of the Opportunity House in Buckhannon, agreed with Harvey, saying the money his organization receives from the United Way enables him to obtain even more funds that can be used to accomplish the goals he’s set for his agency.

“The money that we get from the United Way allows us to leverage more money,” Kerner explained. “I can use that as matching funds for larger grants, and we receive about a 4:1 return, so for every dollar we get from the United Way, I get $4 back.”

For more information about the United Way or to make a donation, visit www.unitedway.org.

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