Abingdon, VA (March 15, 2019) – During the 2019 Impact Awards on March 14, 2019, 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 winners are as follows:

2018 Media Partners: Bristol Herald Courier, WCYB-TV, 93.9 WMEV, 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 advertising 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.”

2018 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.”

Pulaski County United Way Founder Recognition: Dr. Thomas B. Haller

Travis Staton, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “We would like to take this time to recognize an individual who worked incredibly hard to create the Pulaski County United Way in 1959.  Dr. Thomas B. Haller first became aware of United Way while he was serving in the Coast Guard after finishing dental school in Washington D.C. in the late 1950’s. When he returned home to Pulaski County and opened his dental practice, he felt there was a strong need in his community for something similar to what he had witnessed in Washington D.C. Being an innovator, he worked to create the Pulaski County United Way. Thank you Dr. Haller for your unwavering commitment to the betterment of your community.”

2018 Volunteer Recognition

Mary Begley, Board Chair, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Volunteers matter. You make a difference. Your great generosity has had a profound and lasting impact on United Way programs. Your willingness to share both your time and your talent by volunteering with United Way of Southwest Virginia says a lot about each of you. Your willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks to both your strength and the quality of your character. You know who you are.”

Celebrity Bagging Pre-Event Fundraising Award: Town of Chilhowie

Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Once again, many local organizations and companies created Celebrity Bagging teams to compete by engaging in pre-event fundraising. With nearly 75 teams this past year, it got pretty competitive! The winning team raised over $500 in pre-event fundraising and brought in more than any other celebrity bagging team.”

Growth and Innovation Award: Contura

Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, 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 forward thinking resulting in increased participation within their workplace campaigns.”

Top Giver Award: Universal Fibers

Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, this years recipient of the Top Giver Award, goes above and beyond in all that they do to support United Way of Southwest Virginia.  This past year, not only did this company assist us in the storage of thousands of children’s books, their employees also volunteered to help pack food for our Backpacks Unite Program, as well as volunteered their time at the United Way of Southwest Virginia Careers Expo for Youth. This company also sponsors both of these programs. The generosity this company exudes is reflected in their employee giving as well. United Way of Southwest Virginia would not be able to do all that we do without the support of wonderful companies such as this one.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Rachel Haines

Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “Of all of our amazing volunteers there is one that the United Way team unanimously agreed upon to receive our Volunteer of the Year recognition award. This volunteer has committed to over 2,000 hours of volunteer service and continues to grow relationships throughout the region. She brings a new skill set and outlook to our organization. She is quick witted, smart, talented, fun and an asset to our organization.”

Women of Distinction Award: Cathy Bolling

2018 Women of Distinction Award recipient, Brenda Sutherland, said, “Cathy Bolling is dedicated to her community, especially the children. After serving in St. Mary’s Catholic Church’s adult outreach program for three years, she began the Backpack program in 2011, which at that time, fed 8 children twice a month. Through her leadership and dedication, a partnership with United Way of Southwest Virginia was formed and she has grown the Backpacks Unite! program to feeding 237 children three meals every Saturday and Sunday through the school year. Cathy’s concern for childhood hunger is not limited to weekend meals. She also participates at the Richlands High School Food Pantry where students can pick up food in a more discrete manner so that their peers will not be aware of their food needs. She proudly carries the nickname  of “Snack Lady” from the elementary school students that she surprises with snacks during their school day.”

Community Partner of the Year: Ballad Health

Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “United Way of Southwest Virginia receives support from all levels of this organization in nearly all areas of our work. This company holds a company wide campaign throughout the entire region of Southwest Virginia and encourages their employees to give through incentives and company match programs. This past year, this company had a dollar for dollar match on every gift designated to United Way’s Campaign for Grade Level Reading program. Not only does this company participate in an employee campaign and give a corporate gift, they also sponsor multiple United Way programs and events. This past year, they sponsored nearly every program and event that United Way has held or introduced. They played a major role in the new internship program addition to the United Way Ignite program, as well as continuing their volunteerism at our annual Careers Expo for Youth. Furthermore, this year Ballad Health, in partnership with United Way of Southwest Virginia, has created the region’s first Accountable Care Community – a collaborative group whose goal is to transform the health of a region spanning twenty-one counties in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. This organization truly knows what it means to Live United.”

Spirit of the Community Award: UPS Richlands

Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, said,  “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 countless volunteer hours with our Backpacks Unite program. Since they began working with the Backpacks Unite program in 2015, they have served a total of 800 of students, by providing them with a total of 170,000 meals on the weekend, so they can come back to school on Monday ready to learn and succeed. In addition to the Backpacks Unite, they have played a key role in our Ignite Program by their willingness to host an educator tour at the end of March, where they will have middle school educators tour their facility and see exactly what goes on behind the scenes.The educators will leave with specific ideas of how to implement skills used in the plant into their classroom lessons. They always go above and beyond in every way. Additionally, their employees believe so much in the mission of our Backpacks Unite 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 nearly 17% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, and Norton.