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United Way Salutes Community Leaders

United Way Salutes Community Leaders
by William L. Bulla

More than 120 persons gathered at the Robinwood Conference Center, on Thursday, September 22, to receive recognition for their leadership roles in the 2004-2005 United Way campaign. Kelly Wright, recognized anchor and reporter for the FOX News Channel (FNC) appeared as the keynote speaker for the United Way of Washington County's Leadership Giving Circle Reception. Wright, a native of Washington County who resides in Hagerstown, is with the network's Washington, D.C., bureau.
Sponsored by Ferris, Baker Watts and Hagerstown Trust, the reception was held to recognize leadership givers to United Way of Washington County. Leadership Givers are individuals or families who contribute $500 or more annually. Leadership Givers are a big part of the annual campaign, according to Resource Development and Campaign Director Shuan Butcher. "Last year, their gifts totaled over $410,000, or 25% of the total dollars pledged," he said.
Wright shared stories of his youth in Hagerstown and his learning experiences at several of the United Way member agencies. He spoke about leadership in his address, saying "Leaders are just ordinary people who care." He told how he grew up in Washington County, where some of the United Way member agencies provided programs which enabled him to achieve success. He said he would not be where he is today without that guidance provided by the leaders in those agencies.
Wright has spent most of his career in television news. Before joining FOX, Wright served as co-anchor of News at Ten at WVBT-TV in Norfolk, Va. During his tenure, he covered a wide range of stories, including a historical event in Benin, West Africa where African presidents, Mathieu Kerekou of Benin, Jerrauld Rawlins of Ghana, and representatives from the United States, England, France and Dominican Republic apologized for their role in slavery. In previous assignments, Wright covered major world events and secured numerous rare interviews, including a 1996 exclusive interview with O.J. Simpson following the criminal court trial.
ENLARGE, CENTER, AND MAKE STAND OUT " Last year, their gifts totaled over $410,000!"
Wright began his journalism career in 1977, while serving in the United States Army. He has received numerous awards for his reporting, including two local Emmy Awards for his developing, reporting and co-producing a documentary and news series on the transatlantic slave trade.
In addition, Wright has been singing professionally since he was thirteen. He started his singing career in the church. In his secular life, Wright even headlined at the legendary Cotton Club in New York City and has performed around the world. Wright has been the opening act or featured on many shows with top recording artists such as: James Brown, Shirley Ceasar, Vicki Winans, Mississippi Mass Choir, and more. He attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is married and has two sons and a daughter.
During the reception, United Way recognized three individuals and one local company. Howard Kaylor, John Waltersdorf, and the late Ralph Sharrett received plaques from the Alex de Tocqueville Society. This award is given to individuals who contribute $10,000 or more and receives national recognition through United Way of America. In addition, Volvo Powertrain and United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 171 and 1247 were honored as the corporate leader in employee leadership giving. It was noted that 62 of their employees were Leadership Givers. To become a Leadership Giver contact United Way at (301) 739-8200.
United Way of Washington County kicked off its 2005-2006 campaign on September 2 with a goal of $1.7 million. This represents an increase of $100,000 over last years campaign results. The monies from last year's campaign impacted over 50,000 individuals through life changing programs implemented by its 20 member agencies. The need is greater this year.
"United Way provides the opportunity to make the most effective and efficient impact on our community problems," said Noel Williams, Board President.
By funding its member agencies, United Way will ensure that abused women and their children will be safe. Youth will be matched with adult mentors to provide valuable, experiences, and have a safe place to go after school. A life will be saved because someone learned CPR skills. A person with disabilities will find work. Individuals will become independent by acquiring work-related skills. A senior will receive a warm, nutritious meal daily. Individuals without medical coverage will be guided to valuable health resources. United Way of Washington County serves a valuable non-profit resource for the community. United Way knows the most effective way to improve lives is to address the root causes of the community's pressing needs It does this through program accountability and community leadership.
As Wright said, "Leaders are just ordinary people who care." Any individuals "who care" may do so by calling United Way of Washington County at (301) 739-8200.
They can make an impact on these community issues, by volunteering their services or making a donation.

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