By ALLEN RAU
During Monday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Mayor Chuck Vest proclaimed Aug. 23, 2018 “United Way of Washington County TN – Local Kickoff Day”.
Vest presented United Way of Washington County President and CEO Kristan Ginnings and United Way of Washington Co. Chair/Washington County Commissioner Gary McAllister a plaque during his proclamation.
“Two thousand eight hundred forty-one Jonesborough residents received assistance from or took part in programs supported by United Way of Washington County T in 2017,” Vest said, reading the proclamation. “And the United Way provides more than $1.7 million dollars of assistance in our area each year.”
After Vest’s comments, Ginnings added, “Last year with the funds raised, (United Way) supported 53 percent of the residents in the town of Jonesborough. And there’s still a lot of needs.”
McAllister then gave a few details regarding the Kickoff event but added a bit of mystery.
“Aug. 23 is going to be our kickoff. It’s going to be at Rotary Park (in Johnson City), and we’re having a very special event,” McAllister continued. “Former Mayor Kelly Wolfe is going up against Kenny Hawkins of WJHL in a special event. I’m not going to tell you what it is but it’s not cage-match wrestling or anything.”
In addition to the Kickoff event, Ginnings detailed another United Way program in the county.
“We just implemented our new Vello reading program. It’s a virtual volunteer reading program. We’re piloting that in 10 second-grade classrooms. Two in Lamar, two in Westview, one in South Central for Washington County and then Mountain View school in Johnson City.
“If there’s anybody interested in volunteering for that program, it’s 30 minutes a week. You can do it right from your cellphone, right from your computer at work … it’s going to help about 70 children in these ten classrooms be proficient in reading by the time they reach third grade.”
Following the meeting, Ginnings said, “We’re not telling all the details because there’s going to be a surprise element to it … Coach Steve Forbes at ETSU will be our speaker. We have, of course, Kenny Hawkins and Kelly Wolfe. (They) have always had a little competition going on with each other, so they are both going to be there, and have a fun competition between each other.
“We are just doing something that’s going to be fun that is also going to have community impact. And that’s kind of the part we’re not sharing. It’ll be a different format from what anybody used to coming to a United Way function (is used to). But that’ll be the format of how we do things going forward.”
When asked about the secretive nature of the event, Ginnings said, “Even our board of directors does not know.”