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7th annual United Way BBQ kicks off another year of fundraising
Over $70,000 raised last year for local non-profits
United Way BBQ pic 1
A representative of Sisu (formerly Challenged Child and Friends), one of United Way of Dawson County’s partner agencies, voices his appreciation of the fundraising that United Way does for the community. - photo by Allie Dean

The 7th annual United Way of Dawson County BBQ this past weekend kicked off another year of fundraising for the group that raises money for partner agencies within the county.

The BBQ, held Nov. 4 at board member Jim Watson’s home in Dawsonville, serves as a fundraiser itself, with a charge for tickets for attendance as well as raffle tickets being sold at the event.

Event sponsors were Medical Plaza 400, Summit Industrial Construction and Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, which recently opened on Ga. 400.

The mission of United Way of Dawson County is to “improve the lives in our community by mobilizing the caring power and spirit of our citizens.” 

In 2016, United Way of Dawson County raised $74,225 for 15 local organizations and programs.

The funds were divided among four categories: domestic violence services, which included NOA and Rape Response; promoting self-sufficiency, strengthening families and community and safety, which included American Red Cross, St. Vincent dePaul, Dawson County Family Connection, Good Shepherd Clinic of Dawson County and the Reading Education Association of Dawson County; therapeutic services for at-risk children and youth and children with special needs, which included CASA, Sisu (formerly Challenged Child and Friends) and the Children’s Center for Hope and Healing; and strength-based support services for children and youth, which included 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Next Generation Youth Development and Wee Books.

Currently on the advisory board for United Way of Dawson County are Clint Bearden and Hope Fettler, who serve as co-chairs, and Davida Simpson, who serves as secretary, along with board members Rick Brown, Jack Conner, Emory Dooley, Dennis Godfrey, Ed Loy, Kirby Smith, Carol Tyger and Jim Watson.

Watson said during the program at the BBQ that United Way of Dawson County is unique in that 100 percent of the money raised by the organization stays within the county: because the Dawson group is under the umbrella of United Way of Forsyth County, no money has to be used for overhead and administration.

Representatives of partner agencies were present at the BBQ to educate attendees about what they do and how they benefit the community.

Jeanne Buffington, executive director of Rape Response, said that her organization works with survivors of sexual assault aged 13 and over in six north Georgia counties, including Dawson.

“One statistic I want ya'll to be aware of is it takes a female 10 years to disclose sexual assault and a male 20,” Buffington said. “So a lot of times we’re working with folks that have lived with it for a long period of time and they’re trying to work through it and process it and heal. So we’re just grateful for the opportunity and the funding that United Way of Dawson County gives us to help us to be here.”

Tom French, representing Northeast Georgia Council Boy Scouts of America, said that without the contributions of United Way of Dawson County, his unit of boy scouts would not be able to participate.

“We’ve been a partner with [United Way] for close to 70 years...what we like about it is that we in this county can provide scouting to the youth that are special needs kids,” French said. “My unit in Dawson County, I have 21 boys of which 70 percent have all special needs. If it wasn’t for United Way we could not take care of the special needs kids in this county.”

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