COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley kicked off its annual fundraising campaign Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
Nearly 1,000 people were present at the United Way's biggest event of the year.
Girls Scouts of Historic Georgia and Boy Scouts of America, Chattahoochee Council, opened the event as a joint color guard.
Through the generosity of United Way Board members, staff, and local companies, many first responders and military were present at the kickoff.
The Columbus Police Department, Columbus Fire Department, Phenix City Police Department, Phenix City Fire Department, Russell County Sheriff's Office, Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, Marshall's Office, active duty military and Veterans were honored and thanked for their service at the event.
Keith Pierce, Executive Vice President of TSYS and 2016 Campaign Chair, announced United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley's goal to raise $7,110,001, their highest annual campaign goal ever.
"Every person, every agency partner, every veteran and every dollar counts," Pierce said. "Working together, we will meet and exceed the goal."
Pierce stated that if every person that gave to the campaign last year increase one dollar a week, United Way would raise nearly $800,000.
"When you combine hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors with a strong volunteer Board of Directors and staff, there is nothing we can't achieve," Pierce said.
David Parham, a United States Air Force Veteran who was homeless and found housing through United Way's Home for Good program, shared his story and triumphs with kickoff attendees.
"Life is headed in the right direction," said Parham. "The United Way and other agencies helped me to find suitable housing, which in turn helped me back into school," Parham said.
Parham is enrolled at Columbus Technical College and works with at-risk teens at the Boys and Girls Club, a United Way partner agency.
According to Scott Ferguson, President & CEO of the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, Parham's story is the perfect example of how Every1Counts.
"No one person can or should face life's struggles alone," said Ferguson. "Together through United Way and the coalition led by Home for Good, David is a role model for all of us."
Funds raised during the campaign are invested in local programs by volunteers.
The programs must meet a need in one of United Way's four core areas of Health, Income, Basic Needs, and Education, demonstrate results, and show good stewardship of the community's monies.