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United Way Virginia Highlands

Newsletter | Summer 2013

United Way and Smart Beginnings Receive Grant to Improve Childcare in our Region United Way Virginia Highlands was recently awarded a $222,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Social Services to improve the quality of childcare in Southwest Virginia and the New River Valley. United Way partnered with all of the Smart Beginnings programs in the region to plan the project: The Virginia Star Quality Initiative. This voluntary project will offer professional assistance to child care centers as they plan improvements for their children. Those centers that apply for this service will be supported to carry out their improvement plan with support from a professional on-site “coach” as well as by purchases that will help improve the center. Family child care homes will also be eligible for these services. Head Start programs and other preschool programs may also decide to take part in this quality improvement program. Young children often spend much of their waking time in childcare, either in a center or in someone else’s home. This time in childcare is crucial to their emotional, physical and intellectual development. So it is important that childcare provide quality nurturing and educational experiences for our children. This new project is designed to do just that. Recent research in the state of Washington confirmed that this type of support leads to quality improvement in childcare. The lead researcher of this study concluded, “I can confidently say that the (access to) coaching and funding improved child care quality. Quality scores were much higher for the group with access to coaching and quality improvement funds than for the control group that did not have access to these resources.” Smart Beginnings Twin County began this project last year with the support of the three Departments of Social Services in Carroll, Galax and Grayson. In Carroll County, Liddle Tykes Child Development Center recently began the process of quality improvement. The Center’s Director, Tammy Liddle, explained some of the benefits, “Lori Huff, Pictured above (L to R): Lori Huff, Trudy Goldings, Tammy our mentor, was really Liddle, Taelynn Mundy, Zoe Barr

great! She helped with ideas in each classroom to improve the learning experience. She brought books in for the children.” Ms. Huff explained that Smart Beginnings helped purchase a variety of learning materials and activities for the center that supported their improvement plan.

Katherine Hortenstine at Miss Amy’s Childcare

In the Abingdon area this will be an entirely new program. Amy Bowie of Miss Amy’s Child Care Center is already looking forward to going through the star rating process. She explained her interest, “As someone who has been working for years in childcare, I’ve learned how hard it is to have a high quality program. We need help. And I’m glad that the community, through this project, is able to support our work.” Many operators of childcare programs are anxious to improve the quality of the learning for their children. They are excited when they learn that the professional development can come to them. The project, operated by the local Smart Beginnings initiatives, will also provide information to parents to help them look for quality as they select the best possible care for their child. In Southwest Virginia there continues to be a scarcity of options for parents – while in Virginia as a whole, there are six licensed slots for every ten children under five years old, in Southwest Virginia there are only four slots for every ten children. But parents here still want the best possible care for their children and most child care providers want to give top quality care. The new Virginia Quality Rating and Improvement System will help them do that. The Smart Beginnings initiatives working on this project include Smart Beginnings communities: Appalachian Region, Virginia Highlands, Wythe/Bland, Twin County and New River Valley with assistance from the new regional initiative, Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia. Travis Staton, Chief Executive Officer of United Way Virginia Highlands commented, “We are pleased to be a part of this new project to improve the quality of childcare in Southwest Virginia. At United Way, one of our top goals is to support programs that ensure that young children reach Kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. We expect that providing support to childcare providers will be one of the ways we reach that goal.”

United Way Kicks-Off 2013 Campaign Friday June 7th United Way Virginia Highlands kicked off the 2013 Campaign at the Washington County Fairgrounds with a Womanless Beauty Contest. Nine individuals from various local businesses came out in full drag to support the cause. Judges for the event were Sheriff Fred Newman, Deborah Whitaker, Miss Teen Virginia Kinser Crutchfield, and the Star Museum’s very own Robert Weisfeld. “Ginger” of Russell County was crowned “Miss-ter United Way Virginia Highlands,” winning a $200 prize package from Just Fish’n (Bristol, Virginia). The remainder of the day’s event included a BBQ lunch by Uncle Ottie’s BBQ, fun and games, and opportunities to learn about the work of the United Way. More than 200 local business people, agency representatives, volunteers and supporters attended the event. United Way Virginia Highlands would like to say a special thank you to event sponsor Mountain States Health Alliance.

Russell County’s “Gilligan’s Island” team at the 2013 UWVH Kick-Off, with teammates and pageant winner “Ginger” and runner up “Mary-Ann”

The June 7th event kicks off the 2013 campaign and UWVH is proud to welcome the following campaign chairs: »» Jon Applebaum, President and CEO, Twin County Regional Hospital »» Marie Appleby-Breimann, Corporate Counsel, Tru-Point Bank »» Lindy White, CEO, Smyth County Community Hospital »» Co-Chairs Rachel Fowlkes, Executive Director, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and co-chair, David Matlock, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Virginia Highlands Community College

Week of Caring 2013

Volunteers at the Week of Caring Regional Project

United Way Regional Week of Caring Project a HUGE success!

Sweat and paint were already pouring before 11 a.m. on June 17th at the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol, Virginia. Workers lined all sides of the campus’ buildings and outdoor basketball court to give the property a new coat of paint. The regional project was the kick-off event for the week, and included United Way Virginia Highlands, Bristol, Kingsport, Elizabethton, and Washington County, TN. Regions Bank is in its 21st year of participating in the event and had 25 associates at the project. United Way of Bristol was the lead organizer for the 2013 regional project, and for the entire United Way Week of Caring, more than 130 projects were completed.

Meet Your New UWVH Staff! Angie Sproles, Director of Community Impact Angie Sproles became the Director of Community Impact of United Way Virginia Highlands in May, and will be working with partner organizations to develop their capacity and effectiveness. Angie has first-hand experience in managing an effective agency and developing programs for maximum impact. Before joining United Way, Angie served as Executive Director of Appalachian Community Action.

Chris Brown, Resource Development Manager Chris Brown became the Resource Development Manager for the Twin County Region in May. Upon his arrival, he immediately began working within the Twin County region to build awareness on United Way’s focus areas of Education, Income and Health. Before joining United Way, Chris served as a police officer for the Galax Police Department and on United Way’s board of directors.

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Campaign Updates Royal Mouldings Sets the Pace for Smyth County

With the 2013 United Way campaign now underway, Royal Mouldings has set the pace for other businesses in Smyth County. Brian Thomas, Director of Operations at Royal Mouldings stated “Our employees are very dedicated to the communities in which they live and work. Our employees feel it is important to help those in need and to contribute to the improvement of Southwest Virginia as a place to live and grow.” In March, the company finalized their campaign which resulted over $34,000 in employee contributions. Jessica Schwartz, Human Resources Partner stated, “the employees of Royal Mouldings have come together for a greater purpose and to provide for our community, we have truly represented how to LIVE UNITED.” The Marion, Virginia manufacturing plant is part of Royal Mouldings Limited which is the leading manufacturer and distributor of cellular PVC moulding extrusion components and systems in North America. They are unique in their vertical integration from raw materials from their parent company Axiall Corporation through to manufacturing and on to distribution. Their 100% cellular PVC mouldings, trim and decking provide a beautiful yet durable option to trim products that suit virtually any taste or style, to give every home a unique look all its own.

Target Kicks Off Their United Way Campaign

Target in Bristol, Virginia held their campaign kick-off on June 6th. As the team members gathered around the store registers, team members spoke of team recognitions, as well as, the positive influence these team members are making. “The United Way is a great way to give back to the community,” states Jeremy Mays, LOD/GSTL with Target. “We are very proud of our 98% store participation last year and hope it will be more this year.” The team members were excited to learn how their contribution has made a difference in their community and how they are making lasting changes in people’s lives. Target has been a strong United Way supporter since the store opened in 2008. Target employees in Bristol, VA beginning their campaign in June

Third Annual Human Race 5K raises funds for Backpacks Unite

Nearly 100 runners, volunteers, and supporters helped to raise more than $1,000 on May 18th for the 3rd annual Human Race 5K to support United Way Virginia Highlands’ Backpacks Unite program. Held at Lebanon Primary School, the event began with the first-ever Kids Fun Run to engage the younger community healthy, active living and was followed by a 1-mile and 5-K run/walk. As the event closed, the crowd of wet runners and on-lookers celebrated young Trajan Cannon, age 4, and the youngest runner in the 5K. After the event, Wil Cantrell, Lebanon Memorial UMC pastor and first place runner said, ”It was inspiring to see how many people came out to race on a rainy morning. It’s even more inspiring to see how many people are committed to continuing the backpack program that helps feed under-resourced children in our community. I love supporting United Way because it teaches me about the lives of my neighbors and gives me a concrete way to help.”

All participants received gift bags filled with running goodies donated by Fleet Feet Sports (Kingsport, TN) and education materials to support healthy living. The Human Race 5K is a part of United Way Virginia Highlands efforts to not only raise funds for the Backpacks Unite program, but to increase awareness of the importance of living healthy lifestyles. Lara Rexrode, event co-founder said, “We feel the Backpacks Unite Program is a great asset and can aid schools in preparing future generations of our community. We are excited to see our race grow and hope to continue to see our community grow as well.” Wil Cantrell, Human Race 5k winner

Trajan Cannon and his dad Steve

United Way Virginia Highlands would like to say a special thank you to our sponsors: Russell County Medical Center, TruPoint Bank, C-Health, RoadID, and Maple Grove Health Care Center for all of their support.



Backpack Unite is gearing up for the 2013-2014 school year! Make a donation, adopt a school or volunteer to pack by visiting or calling 276-628-2160.

201 Preston St.


P.O. Box 644 Abingdon, VA 24212 Ph: (276)-628-2160 Fax: (276)-628-8484

United Way Virginia Highlands


Corporate Partners

Media Partners

UPCOMING EVENTS August Leadership “Thank You” Events

October 2nd Special Games Day Chilhowie, VA

More information to come!

Contact Susan Kilby at for more information!

August 14th Regional Kick-Off Kingsport, TN For more information contact United Way of Greater Kingsport!

September 7th SCALE 25th Ann. Marion, VA For more info call Tracy McCarty at 276783-7950 or email

October 14th Smart Beginnings Golf Tournament Bristol, VA Email Danielle Starnes for more information at!

This newsletter is proudly sponsored by Johnston Memorial Hospital. For more information on how you can sponsor our newsletter, call 276-628-2160 or email

UWVH Summer newsletter 2013