The United Way of Greater Atlanta officially started its 2014 annual fundraising campaign Thursday with a joint meeting of the Rockdale and Conyers Rotary clubs, hosted at Rockdale Medical Center.
The theme of the campaign this year is "Creating Community Change," which is being used with hopes of inspiring people to take their community to another level.
Retired Army General Stewart Rodeheaver, the event's guest speaker, emphasized United Way's theme strongly as he told stories about his overseas trips to Baghdad.
In Baghdad, Rodeheaver was in-charge of a project to get electricity flowing through some of Baghdad's neighborhoods. The project was a success and citizens would throw parties and give them their food as a thank you for the work they did, said Rodeheaver.
But it wasn't the light that was illuminating the homes and mudhuts that had people cheering for joy.
"People were excited not because of the light that shown, but because someone cared enough do it," said Rodeheaver, who lives in Eatonton, GA where his company Vizitech USA is based.
Organizations like United Way give people that same sense of relevance because the person feels like someone cared enough about them to help and there are plenty of people who need help in the community, Rodeheaver added.
About 100 people attended the lunch-in at Rockdale Medical Center, including officials from City of Conyers, Rockdale County and Rockdale County Public Schools. Members of the local business community and other individual campaign contributors were in attendance as well.
Tickets for a raffle that included prizes such as a safety chest, tool set, full-sized grill, outside chairs and gardening equipment was taken were sold at the lunch.
Rotary Club of Conyers and Rotary Club of Rockdale sponsored the annual event kickoff for the 28th year in row.
The goal of this year's campaign is raise at least a minimum of $170,000. An official goal won't be set until probably Sept. 1, says Claire Cline, regional director of United Way for Henry, Butts and Rockdale Counties.
In 2013, United Way raised a total of $268,000 in Rockdale which was spread throughout the community to different partner organizations. Achieving a modest increase of at least $5,000 over last year's total could be a realistic goal for the non-profit organization.