SAYRE — Representatives of the United Way of Bradford County kicked off the organization’s 45th anniversary Thursday with a celebration at The Blackburn 1897.
The event also marked the start of a four-part series of similar celebrations, which would be taking place in Towanda, Wyalusing and Canton, according to executive director Joan Smith-Reese.
“Geographically, Bradford County is one of the largest counties in the state,” she said. “So we wanted to try to reach everyone we could in as many communities as we could, because we’re here for everyone.”
With a lofty 2023 fundraising campaign goal of $565,000, Smith-Reese noted her excitement in raising the bar to support the, coincidentally, over 45 nonprofit organizations that receive funds from the United Way.
“A lot of people know that we help organizations that do very serious work, like The Children’s House child abuse center,” she said. “But we also support more recreational organizations like libraries and museums.”
Last year, the United Way of Bradford County assisted approximately 109,000 people through its work, Smith-Reese noted.
“Every dime of our campaign funds goes towards the agencies we support,” she added. “Things like our administrative costs we pay for through other avenues.”
Smith-Reese acknowledged that the $565,000 goal was “huge,” but rebuilding the employee match program from the slump created by the pandemic will be a key fundraising tool to reach that number.
In addition to a wine basket being raffled off at the event, the artist of the Blackburn’s mural, Frank Evans, was recognized.
The mural, which took 244 hours to paint, features the bridge that once connected the East side of Sayre over the railroad tracks to W. Lockhart Street.
“Painting this mural brought back lots of memories,” he said. “Some of my earliest memories were from this walkway bridge, because my mother would often take me to the hospital when I was child for health problems that I had at the time.”
Smith-Reese concluded by noting that the mission of the United Way is right in its name.
“We have one life,” she said. “To live better, we must live united.”
To learn more about the United Way of Bradford County, visit www.unitedwaybradfordcounty.org.