Community members honored for impact on region

United Way of Southwest Virginia 2018 Impact Awards

Abingdon, VA (March 16, 2018) – During the 2018 Impact Awards on March 15, 2018, United Way recognized companies, community groups, and individuals who were a part of the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia. The event was sponsored by Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union. The winners are as follows:

Jim Maxwell, Publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier, accepts the United Way of Southwest Virginia Media Partner award at the 2018 Impact Awards.

2017 Media Partners: Bristol Herald Courier, WCYB-TV, 93.9 FM, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA
Travis Staton, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Our media partners donate time and space to help us share messaging related to our initiatives and investments throughout the region, and to help address and bring attention to local problems and local solutions.”

2017 Corporate Partners: Food City, Universal Fibers, Utility Trailer
Travis Staton, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Our corporate partners provide investment to our organization that allows us to make sure all of our local donations stay local. These three corporate partners have been important and loyal supporters as we have grown to become a community impact organization.”

President’s Volunteer Service Award Winners:
–       Bronze: Abbigale Duncan, Lauren Powell, Makayla Haynes, Laura Horton, Elly Jackson, Carrie Sproles, Anna Thompson, Danny Ward, and Monty Vernon
–       Silver: Chloe Sutherland, Aleia Warren, and Luke Icenhour
–       Gold: Austin Copley, and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Southwest Virginia Region
Debby Loggans, Volunteer Manager, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers. The Award, created in 2003, also recognizes the importance of volunteers to America’s strength and national identity. As a Certifying Organization, United Way of Southwest Virginia must verify that each volunteer has met the minimum number of validated volunteer hours per year, based on the age of the individual. Hours are recorded and then confirmed by the recipient organization. Each volunteer will receive a certificate from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a sign letter of accomplishment from the President and a service pin.”

Mountain Empire Community College accepted the first ever Celebrity Bagging Award during the United Way of Southwest Virginia Impact Awards.

Celebrity Bagging Pre-Event Fundraising Award: Mountain Empire Community College
Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, Celebrity Bagging is an annual fundraising event hosted by Food City on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. During Celebrity Bagging, volunteer celebrities bag groceries for a short length of time at one of the Food City locations across the region who participate in the event, and collect tips to benefit each store’s local United Way. This year, we encouraged celebrity bagging teams from local organizations and companies to compete by engaging in pre-event fundraising. Mountain Empire Community College went above and beyond in their pre-event fundraising and brought in more than any other celebrity bagging team.”

 Growth and Innovation Award: Vanguard
Shauna Gillespie, Community Relations Coordinator, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “United Way of Southwest Virginia brings together the people and organizations necessary to create solutions to our region’s most pressing challenges. This couldn’t continue without ongoing growth from our annual employee campaigns. The growth and innovation award recognizes companies that have demonstrated high levels of creativity and forward thinking resulting in increased participation within their workplace campaigns. Vanguard understands that to achieve a high level of employee participation, you have to respect your employees’ time, so they went the extra mile to make donating to our organization as quick as possible. This company also donated items for a drawing where every employee who gave to United Way was entered to win. Vanguard more than doubled its contribution with an increase of over 120% in its employee giving over the previous year.

Ballad Health accepted the Top Giver award from United Way of Southwest Virginia.

Top Giver Award: Legacy Mountain States Health Alliance (now Ballad Health)
Martha Whitt, Community Relations Coordinator, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Our fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our region could not go on without the continued support of local companies and organizations. Each year, we recognize the company with highest cumulative giving. This includes both their employee giving, as well as their corporate gift. Many different campaign coordinators at multiple this company led fundraising efforts that included fun events and incentives such as: auctions, drawings for tickets and other giveaways from local vendors. United Way receives support from all levels of Mountain States Health Alliance. Last Fall, their Executive Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Alan Levine, co-hosted our Leaders’ Breakfast for Operation Tomorrow’s Workforce, and made a long-term commitment to support the development of internships within our Ignite Program. Members of their organization have invested in those who care for and educate the youngest members of our community through their sponsorship of our Tender Loving Caregivers (TLC) Conference, they have packed bags as part of our Backpacks Unite initiative, and they have engaged with students as an employer at our Careers Expo for Youth. Mountain States Health Alliance truly knows what it means to Live United.”

Community Partner of the Year: Food City
Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Each year, we recognize an organization that expands the scope of their work to support the efforts of United Way.  This year’s recipient states that being community-oriented and involved in local efforts is one of their top priorities, and we are privileged to experience that dedication on a regular basis. When we think about this company, there is literally no area of service we offer where we do not have some level of partnership with them. Food City’s philosophy is the epitome of that of a community partner, and it’s certainly due to the leadership of the President/CEO, Steve Smith, who recently stated, “I firmly believe that we each have an obligation to help make our community be a better place to live, work and educate our children.” This company goes big – or they go home. The first example (and there are many) is their work with our weekend food distribution program, Backpacks Unite. Their partnership expanded this the backpacks program immensely. We now work with more than 20 sponsors to serve more than 1,000

Delegate Israel O’Quinn accepted the Corporate Partner Award and the Comminity Partner of the Year Award for Food City during the 2018 United Way of Southwest Virginia Impact Awards on Thursday.

students (in over 30 schools) across the region who are at risk of going hungry. The backpacks program is a collaborative effort among United Way of Southwest Virginia, community organizations, school personnel, and of course, this company. In 2017, we collaborated with this company on a new initiative – to launch a regional awareness campaign to encourage more participation in WIC, an under-utilized program in our area that provides access to nutritious food to qualifying women, infants, and children. As I said before, this company “goes big or goes home”. I am not exaggerating.  This company had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different booths at Careers Expo for Youth and donated much time, talent, and treasure to providing our region’s youth with a hands-on career experience representing different fields of work available in their company.  They even had a transfer truck deliver the giant Food City grocery cart so the students could see this spectacle on display. They spent hundreds of hours planning and providing these career experiences to our region’s students. I will also mention that this company’s culture values leadership development and regularly provides opportunities for their up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow to strengthen their skills. They participate in our development program for non-profit board members, they serve on our coalitions, and they participate on our event committees. When we need great volunteers to help make an event or initiative successful, Food City has a reliable source of community-minded employees, who, when it comes to their involvement with us, bring value, every day.”

Women of Distinction Award: Brenda Sutherland
2017 Women of Distinction Award recipient, Tammy Ammen, said, “I am pleased to announce the newest member to the class of honorees of United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Women of Distinction Award. This honor is awarded to women who have empowered others to give of themselves through their leadership in the community. Brenda Sutherland is dedicated to her community and in particular, education, economic development, and volunteerism. She serves in a supervisory role for educators in training.  This woman has experience as a teacher and an administrator, currently leading a rural and entrepreneurial initiative in our community, developing partnerships to further the education of many members of our community while promoting the economic development of our region.  Brenda supports United Way’s efforts to lead generational change through their initiatives focused on youth success.  Serving in a local government leadership role, she is credited with many positive changes in our region.  She is instrumental to United Way of Southwest Virginia’s fundraising efforts, ensuring access to important initiatives.  Not only is she a donor herself, but she hosts and sponsors an annual event to bring on more United Way supporters.”

The United Way of Southwest Virginia Spirit of the Community Award was accepted by Mohawk Industries employees and United Way of Southwest Virginia President and CEO Travis Station.

Spirit of the Community Award: Mohawk Industries
Travis Staton, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “The Spirit of the Community Award is presented to a company that exhibits outstanding support of United Way and year-round commitment to our community. This company’s investment in our community is truly incredible.  They demonstrate their dedicated spirit of community through their annual workplace campaign as well as through sponsorships of events and involvement in our programs.  When we asked them to participate in the Ignite Program, they stepped up in a big way, showing their keen understanding of the importance of investing in the workforce of tomorrow.  Their participation in the Ignite Program not only includes the Careers Expo for Youth, where their team engaged with thousands of middle school students over two days, but they have also hosted educator tours. They had at least a dozen members of their team standing ready when a school bus load of teachers pulled up to their plant in Hillsville last Fall – from the plant manager to the HR manager to team leads. The educators left with specific ideas of how to implement skills used in the plant into their classroom lessons, and this company even provided refreshments and fun give away items to our region’s educators who participated.  Mohawk Industries goes above and beyond in every way.  Additionally, their employees believe so much in the mission of our Ignite Program that they pursued a grant from their corporate foundation to support these efforts in our community.  Everyone in their company shows spirit of community – it is part of their culture.”

United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers almost 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, and the cities of Galax and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit