United Way honors donors, volunteers, advocates with annual luncheon

Over 100 community members gathered in the St. Mary’s Conference Center noon Tuesday to celebrate the 2015 accomplishments of the United Way of the River Cities. Partners, donors and volunteers reflected on the presence United Way programs provided to the city of Huntington and recognized new initiatives for the 2016 year.

Executive director Laura Gilliam thanked those in attendance for the efforts and introduced a new 2016 president for the upcoming year.

“They know who we are but they just don’t know what we do,” said 2016 president Charles Schumacher as he spoke to donors, volunteers and advocates about how he hopes the United Way of the River Cities will increase its presence in the upcoming year. The United Way supports and funds many programs in Huntington, often times without recognition of who has made the support possible.

Programs such as Recovery Point, a drug addiction treatment center in Huntington, attributes its success to its partnership with the United Way of the River Cities. Executive director for Recovery Point Matt Boggs referred to the number of men recovering from addiction because of the facility when he spoke of how the United Way has helped the program go from 10 men in 2011 to 165 men in 2015.

“Men were once a disruptive force in our community, but now they are a healing force,” Boggs said.

The United Way has aided in the graduation of 165 men from Recovery Point through its monetary support of over $100,000 since 2011.

Aside from the programs in the community for which the United Way is responsible for uplifting, the United Way also fosters a community within its volunteers, donors and advocates. Retired Huntington pediatrician Dr. Ratcliff said his involvement with the United Way began many years ago when his wife was a volunteer for the Red Cross. Ratcliff said he served on the Commack Children’s Board, a residential center for children and teens, for many years and used his profession to aid in the health and wellness of many young children who would not have been provided with the valuable resource had it not been for the United Way.

One of the mottos for the United Way sums up the power of giving and its ability to inspire others: Those who can do, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.

The 2015 goal is 97 percent complete. The United Way of the River Cities has raised $966,000 of its $1 million goal. July 1 is the end of the fundraising year for 2015 and donors of the United Way are confident this goal can be met.

Elayna Conard can be contacted at [email protected].