WEIRTON - Weirton United Way Executive Director Kristin Bowman Cross gave a presentation on the organization's work during the Wednesday meeting of the Rotary Club of Weirton.
"I liked the challenge, so I took it," she said of her appointment as the 2010 United Way Committee Chair. She was named executive director later that same year.
Bowman Cross said that appointment and work with the fashion show committee allowed her to see behind the scenes at the United Way.
"There's a lot of things going on that people don't know about," she said, adding it was important for the organization to be visible in the community.
The United Way supports 15 member agencies that provide food and clothing and help the poor, elderly, ill and children.
"Our agencies have a wide range of clients, from youth to senior citizens," she said.
Bowman Cross noted the United Way doesn't give to individuals, but to charitable organizations, and those individuals seeking assistance at the United Way are directed to those agencies that can best meet their needs.
The organization's year begins with two weeks of meetings with member agency representatives in April, during which each agency requests funds, details what was done with funds granted previously and outlines what they plan to do with the requested funds. The organization also hears from groups hoping to become member agencies.
The United Way's first priority is to support efforts to feed, clothe and shelter those in need, and, when distributing funds, consideration is given to such programs, especially those operating locally. Receiving funds doesn't guarantee receiving the same amount each year, she said.
"I wish people could hear the stories I hear and see what I see," she said, noting some area children only receive those meals they eat at school.
She noted the organization's fundraisers, including the May golf classic, poker run, fashion show, bowl-a-thon, ladies golf classic and Super Bowl party.
Last year, the United Way sponsored a "Visit With Santa," for the first time, and it was well-received by area children and the organization hopes to continue to offer the event, she said.
Also new this year, the annual fundraising kick-off dinner was shelved in favor of a "Kick-Off Week," including a 31 party, balloon launch, luncheon, cookbook sale and school walk, in which students from all of Weirton's public schools walked in support of the United Way at the new Jimmy Carey Stadium.
"She's the best thing to happen to the United Way since Chuck Cronin," said Rotarian John Newbrough.
Bowman Cross is a Weir High School and West Virginia University graduate and also works part-time for the state auditor's office. She worked with the United Way as a volunteer previous to becoming the executive director. She also has worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Weirton, Weirton Christian Center, RSVP and is a Weirton Medical Center Board of Directors member and Hancock Democratic Executive Committee vice president. She lives in Weirton with her husband and two sons.
During the meeting, it was announced:
Serra Village is competing in the Medline Pink Glove Dance Competition to raise awareness of breast cancer. The first place team will have a $10,000 donation made to the breast cancer charity of their choice. To vote for Serra Village/Weirton Geriatric Center, visit PinkGloveDance.com before Nov. 1.
Members were asked to sign up for the Salvation Army turkey drive. Each $20 donated buys a turkey for a needy area family.
Rotarians who attended the recent district meeting in Mineral Wells spoke about what they had learned, including the "Future Vision Plan," an attempt to engage younger business people more accustomed to interacting via social media. The Weirton club will receive a $937 simplified grant toward community service projects, but changes in the program likely will double the amount the district clubs receive next year. As part of the changes, the club president, president-elect and foundation chair are expected to attend a grant workshop yearly and the president and president-elect must sign a memorandum of understanding in order for the club to qualify for grant money. The next workshop will be Oct. 27 in Bridgeport. District Governor-elect J.R. Wolfe announced he would be in close communication with clubs and would move the conference to the spring.
Members briefly discussed the e-Mentor program, with some having signed up online to be mentors.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will give the program at Wednesday's meeting, and Steve Kladakis will give the program at the Oct. 31 meeting.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)