United Way launches its campaign at 2 Witches | New

DANVILLE, Virginia – 2 Witches Brewery and Winery hosted United Way’s 2021, Back to Have Fun launch event on Thursday night.

United Way President and CEO Jennifer Smith provided an overview of the importance of United Way.

“From September to December, United Way runs its annual campaign,” Smith said. “Tonight is the kick-off. This year we wanted to have a place that a lot of people might not attend. It is an awareness event.

Smith explained that most people contribute through their employees. They contribute or promise dollars for the year. United Way did not host a launch event last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith also explained in their planning, they thought people would have space outside.

Some of the United Way’s sponsors include Goodyear, PRA Group, Nana Karen’s and the local League of Ordinary Gentlemen group.

Smith said funds raised over the next few months will be distributed through 19 nonprofit programs.

League of Ordinary Gentlemen organized musical entertainment. The highlight of the evening was a story by Stephanie Akins.

Akins was the victim of domestic violence for almost two years, and one night, when authorities showed up, they found her in a ditch. She was beaten inches from her life. The officer begged her and begged her to call Virginia Legal Aid, an agency funded by the United Way. She did, and they, along with her lawyer, Mr. Simmons, helped her get through all court dates. Now she is the manager of God’s Storehouse Urban Farm, but more importantly, a survivor.

United Way President Austin Scher said the goal of the event is to increase awareness and excitement.

“If we can tell the story and the mission, the money will come and the stories will follow,” Scher said.

Scher explained how United Way is recovering from the challenges of COVID-19 and 2020.

“The good news is in a year affected by COVID, United Way was still being felt,” Scher said. “Whatever money was made last year, it can be increased this year. Now that we’re back, these extra donations can get the community back on track. The ordinary people you meet are directly affected. This kick-off is the start of a return to some semblance of normalcy.

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