2019 Celebration: Awards

It is no small thing to do a kindness for another. Each of you in this room has done this time and time again. You’ve made your own gifts of time and treasure and you’ve invited others to join you. 
Today we have the privilege of sharing our thanks to a few of the many amazing people and companies we get to spend time with during the year.
(To fast forward to any awardees click on a link below)

Community School Partnership of the Year - Brumit Restaurant Group

The Brumit Restaurant Group’s commitment to the Community School Strategy is a game changer. Joe, Janice JoAnn and Greg, along with the entire Brumit Restaurant Group/Arby’s team are helping us transform our area middle schools into Hubs of Support for families and communities.
Here are just a few Brumit Restaurant Group partnership highlights from the past year:
  • They provided a $100,000 matching gift for the Enka District, helping us leverage other community support.
  • In addition, we are proud to count six Brumit Restaurant Group team members as a part of our Tocqueville Society 
  • their team can be found volunteering regularly at Homework Diners in Asheville, Enka, Erwin and Owen and helping instill the entrepreneurial spirit in local students by volunteering as investors at Asheville Middle School’s version of Shark Tank
  • and finally, hundreds of students, teachers, coaches and parents gathered on the Arby’s Scholarship Deck for three UNCA basketball games for a free Arby’s and tickets to the games

Brumit Restaurant Group/Arby’s are a model for supporting the community through Community Schools, and we are so very grateful for them. It is our distinct pleasure to present the Brumit Restaurant Group with this year’s Community School Partner of the Year award.



Spirit of the Mountains - Southeastern Container

Southeastern Container is a model corporate citizen boasting: strong corporate support, a strong leadership giving presence and generous and hardworking employees. They provide a supportive culture that encourages community involvement and volunteerism where teammates tackle big projects like building an arbor and raised garden plots at Vance Elementary and their active and enthusiastic support of our annual School Supply Drive. Southeastern provided additional corporate funds for the Enka Middle School targeted campaign and their team grew their overall support for our work by more than $10K this year. Our thanks to Southeastern Container for exemplifying the Spirit of the Mountains!


I Live United - the Exceptional Engagement Coordinator Award - Gerry Leonard, YWCA

We are proud to support the important work of the YWCA. Serving as a resource for the health and prosperity of local families, their commitment to community building and social justice, particularly in the areas of economic, gender and racial justice is crucial and inspirational. 
They are also great partners to us. Through the leadership of the YWCA’s Racial Justice & Outreach Specialist Gerry Leonard, the YW cultivated a 35% increase in donors and a 6% increase in donations in 2018. How’d they do it? Well we have a hunch that these increases can be attributed to the renewed spirit and enthusiasm that Leonard inspired through tightly choreographed dance routines and a flair of dramatic costumes. With his team, the YWCA staff wowed audiences, winning our Lip Sync Battle two years in a row.  We are grateful to Gerry Leonard, as he exemplifies one who values a good cause, good fun and a whole lot of strategic follow through. Leonard’s leadership and the YWCA’s participation represent the spirit we talk about when we say the words, “I Live United!”


I’ll do anything for United Way - Mills Manufacturing

There has never been a time when Mills Manufacturing did not conduct a United Way campaign. Through the ups and downs (they make parachutes so the landings are soft!) their leadership and employees have been partners in our annual campaign!
This year they shook it up. In partnership with our volunteer center, Mills Manufacturing and their employees purchased the supplies, provided the time and space and assembled over 150 snack packs for the students in the Erwin School District.  Especially personal were the notes of encouragement written to the students in their native languages of Spanish, Russian and Moldavian.
Compared to last year an additional $5192.76 was given and increased number of givers by 33 people. Our thanks to Mills for Doing Anything and Everything for our United Way!


Outstanding Employee Campaign - Milkco

If love some Ultimate ice cream or drink milk at all, you can thank Milkco. Just like our 2-1-1 call center, the employees of Milkco are at their job 24/7 collecting, processing, bottling and distributing milk for our community and the southeast.  This same dedication is given to their annual United Way campaign: great planning, great leadership, authentic support and engagement by all employees!
Milkco provides good incentives, like up to 8 hours of PTO, to encourage giving and Keith Collins always provide a warm welcome followed by great organizing leadership from Nancy Hensley! As a result, they generate nearly $50,000 every year to strengthen our community! Our Outstanding Employee Campaign award goes to Milkco.


Exceptional Partnership - Eaton Corporation

Eaton Corporation’s 2 locations employ more than 1,000 people and their values drive their strong commitment to the community. Dave Mannebach and Kevin McDonald serve on our board and provide crucial statewide leadership for 2-1-1. Alana Debruhl and Javier Garcia motivate their team to raise funds with fun events like Chili cookoffs, golf tournaments, trivia nights and more and their employee's volunteer for Days of Impact, mentoring students at Career Days, serving at homework diners and rallying supplies for the School Supply Drive. Last year Eaton’s employee campaign surpassed $135,000!  Added to the matching corporate gift, and other special events their total giving is over $225,000. Thank you Eaton for your Exceptional Partnership.


Hands On Business Partner of the Year Award - GE Aviation

Our staff learned about the need to support STEM and STEAM at our local schools. Now, we know how to mobilize volunteers and are always looking for new projects, but we know nothing about STEM education or how to design a STEM kit. 
In the summer of 2018, we approached Sarah Congleton at GE Aviation and Brian Maccarielli and Stefanie Buckner curriculum directors at Buncombe County Schools. We wanted to tap into their expertise in the creation of a STEM-focused project.  A series of working meetings, late night tinkering sessions, and a commitment to continuous product improvement led to the creation of a STEM kit for both 4th and 7th graders that future volunteer groups can help fund and assemble as a part of a Business United We Care Experience. 
These kits are on your tables, Brian and Stephanie helped product test and integrate appropriate curriculum and the kits were designed and re-designed by Sarah, Ryan, Emily, James and their team at GE Aviation. Later today, we’ll bag up these kits and they’ll head over to the Owen district. We all want to encourage students to think about STEM careers, we created profile cards about the people who work at GE - so that students can see the diversity of positions and maybe even see someone who looks like them working in STEM. GE not only committed to the development of these kits, but also contributed financially, so that we could send 100 of each type of STEM Kit out into the community.  

Thank you to Brian and Stefanie, for sharing your curriculum expertise and time.  Thank you to Sarah Congleton, without your leadership and management, this project wouldn’t have happened. Thank you to Emily and James especially- you spent hours figuring out the best wheels to use that were also cost-effective. Thank you to all the other volunteers who took part in this project.  Last, but not least, thank you Ryan Huth for providing support to your team at the leadership level so that the project was prioritized and completed with all the other priorities of running a business.  



Spirit of the Mountains Award - Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority

2004 is the first time this next relationship taxied down the runway.  The Asheville Regional Airport continues its ascent as a committed and supportive community partner into the present day. 
Roughly 14% of their staff participate in Days of Impact annually. Their team supports our School Supply Drive. And employee giving to United Way has increased by 113% over the last 5 years. I believe this is due to the leadership of Lew Bleiweis, Director and Ellen Heywood, campaign coordinator reinforcing the organization’s core values mixed with a better understanding of how those values align with United Way's work. The Airport Authority believes in caring, service, and people which are also all fundamental beliefs of the work of YOUR United Way. Today we present the Spirit of the Mountains award to the one organization that can literally fly over the mountains, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority.


Community Builder Award - Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community

A quick Google search will illustrate why Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community sees themselves as a premier Life Care community. They list 13 reasons why you’ll love living at Deerfield. The one reason that caught my eye the most was together our values build community. I have found this to be the case when it comes to the support and partnership they have built with us. Together, the residents and employees contributed over $53K. Together, they provided $6,000 in school supplies during our annual drive; in which they purchased, sorted, and packed everything. And together, they host a fabulous musical talent show that is worthy of a Tony Award. Together, their values are truly helping to build this community. Thank you Michelle Wooley, campaign coordinator/organizer and chief and Bob Wernet, CEO for your support. We recognize Deerfield with our Community Builder award; which is way better than a Tony.


The Live United A.C.T (Action Changes Things) Award - Mission Health

“The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you.” Perhaps someone whispered that quote into Stephanie Baron’s ear. This year Mission Health had a billion reasons to not run a workplace campaign. But they said yes and charged Stephanie with making it happen. Stephanie did not shy away from the challenge but instead faced it head-on. Being a Performance Improvement guru, she first put together a high functioning campaign committee. She then designed a how-to campaign playbook and converted the actions steps into a project; complete with timeline, progress field, and a legend. Yes, her left brain went bananas. But the end result yielded a combined corporate and employee contribution of over $535K dollars; with 162 new donors. 
At the same time they brought their A game when they spit a few lines of “it’s tricky” by Run DMC for the lip sync battle, deployed nearly 100 employees participate in Days of Impact volunteer projects throughout the county and once again crushed our backpack collection goals. When we stop and think about all of the transformation that was taking place behind the scenes at Mission, these results become that much more impressive. Jimmy Dean once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” We want to say thank you Mission Health for adjusting your sails for those community members who need a little support. Today we recognize you with the Live United A.C.T. Award.