Local United Way chapter begins annual fundraising campaign

Jennifer Prouty (from left), La Verne Gold, president and CEO of the United Way of the CSRA, and Teresa Harris dressed up Monday for the annual fundraising campaign kickoff. SPECIAL

With a festive circus theme, the United Way of the CSRA on Monday announced its plan to raise $3.4 million in its annual fundraising campaign.

 

“With everyone’s support, we can do this,” said campaign chairman Thomas Blanchard III at a luncheon meeting at Bell Auditorium.

Last year, the organization raised $3,312,613 for 45 programs in 24 health and human service organizations. Although focused fundraising takes place in the fall, the organization works year-round to help those in need.

The organization also gave a face to those who are assisted by the money raised.

Sylvia Beam, the development director for Hope House, shared Monday how the United Way and its agencies assisted her.

Raised in an alcoholic family, Beam had vowed never to become addicted. At first, she kept that vow. She didn’t go to parties in high school, and she graduated in the top ranks of her class. She became the first member of her family to go to college.

“I was always an anxious and nervous child,” she said. “When I took my first drink, that all went away.”

She was able to manage her drinking for a while, she said. She took part in what she thought were “typical college experiences” with parties and drinking. She graduated from college and got a good job. But a traumatic experience that led to a downward spiral. She ended up losing everything and found herself in a homeless shelter.

She tried to turn things around but realized she needed help. She learned about Hope House.

“I needed extra help,” she said.

Going to Hope House was “an amazing experience,” she said:

“I was around other women who’d gone through similar things.”

Now she’s gone two years without alcohol or drugs to help her cope with her problems, and she’s helping other women who are going through what she did.

“I don’t know where my life would be if there hadn’t been someone to help me in my time of need,” she said.

Hope House is just one of the organizations the United Way funds.

To learn more about the United Way, visit its website at www.uwcsra.org or call (706) 724-5544.

 

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