United Way tops $1.2M fund goal

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The United Way of Wilson County is celebrating another successful year after raising more than $1.2 million in campaign contributions.

Campaign volunteers and companies who made it all possible were recognized Thursday during the United Way’s 59th annual meeting held at the Wilson County Country Club.

Matt Whitley, this year’s president of the United Way board of directors, said raising more than $1.2 million shows just how much the Wilson community believes in and supports United Way’s mission each year.

This year’s campaign theme was “Standing Up for A Stronger Community.” Whitley said helping to strengthen the community is something the United Way has done for many years and will continue to do so for many more.

Judi Thurston, the United Way of Wilson County’s executive director, said the organization’s success wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteers who work tirelessly each year.

“We are very fortunate in this community,” Thurston said. “Everyone here in this room believes in the United Way.”

The United Way funds 25 nonprofit agencies in Wilson County. And its focus is creating lasting change through income, education and health.

Wilson Police Maj. Scott Biddle, incoming president of the United Way board of directors, also said he is amazed every year at supporters’ enthusiasm along with their big hearts and giving spirit.

“This is a wonderful community,” he said.


The Marcia Parker Volunteer Service Award, named after the United Way’s former executive director, goes to the most dedicated and effective volunteer in the campaign. This year’s award went to Christine Virgilio and Kelvin Lamb from Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.

“It takes time, but at the end of the day it takes people to make this happen,” Whitley said.


The Leon Wilson Humanitarian Award is named after a former United Way president and friend who was not only a leader in his career with BB&T, but was also a true leader in the Wilson community.

Wilson believed in giving back to the community and leaving the world better than the way he found it. This year’s award went to BB&T, which has provided more than 50,000 volunteer hours to the community through the company’s Lighthouse Projects, an initiative begun in 2009. BB&T’s Wes Berry received the award on the bank’s behalf.

“As we celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the BB&T Lighthouse Projects, we find it fitting to award BB&T the humanitarian award for recognizing the importance of volunteerism and community involvement,” Thurston said.


City of Wilson employees and Bridgestone Americas both received the Spirit of Wilson Award.

The award, which is in honor of Wilson Crisis Center Executive Director Nancy Sallenger, represents those who have demonstrated great enthusiasm and commitment to the United Way during the campaign. The city of Wilson had its largest campaign ever and raised more than $113,000. Bridgestone also increased its campaign contributions by more than $20,000 from last year to more than $415,000 total during this year’s campaign.


The Spirit of Giving Award went to Linamar Forgings Carolina. The company has participated in United Way campaign for 40 years and its employees have always stayed steady in their contributions. Linamar has an average per-capita gift of $257 and contributed more than $55,000 to the campaign.


The Creative Spirit Award goes to those who use their imagination and ingenuity to increase campaign participation. This year’s award went to Fresenius Kabi.

“This company is always looking at ways to connect with the community,” Whitley said. “It takes a creative spirit to do new things and to increase participation.

Fresenius Kabi held a 5K fundraiser where all proceeds went to the United Way. Its workers also held their annual chili cook-off along with a raffle.