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United Way sets goal
Campaign dedicated to late board member
4 Day of Caring pic3
Taylor Wallace helps paint the basement of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce on Friday as part of the annual Day of Caring. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

There wasn’t a dry eye during Friday’s lunch to kick off United Way for Dawson County’s 2011 campaign.


Held annually to announce the group’s fundraising goal, the event also recognized the late Mark Weaver, who served several years on the United Way for Dawson County board of directors.


Weaver, 61, died earlier this year after a brief illness.


“I imagine the majority of us in this room can share how Mark touched your lives in some way or another because he was so many things to so many people,” said United Way chairman Jay Sessions.


Described by Sessions as a man of action with a can-do attitude, Weaver immersed himself in the community, organizing a soup kitchen and free clinic in the basement of Grace Presbyterian, where he served as pastor.


“Mark was always thinking of ways to reach the underserved of our community,” Sessions said.


Like Weaver, United Way for Dawson County aims to help those in need.


To that end, it hopes to raise $100,000 over the next few months. The funding will then be allocated to 13 partner agencies in the county.


Several speakers representing partner agencies shared stories on how the United Way has affected their lives.


Bethany Bennett, whose son suffers from autism, said she is forever grateful to the support Challenged Child, an agency that provides help for parents raising children with disabilities, receives from United Way.


“My son would not be where he is today,” she said.


Ernest McGill, 74, said the United Way has also changed his life. 


McGill, who said he felt incomplete without a high school education, smiled as he shared how the Dawson County Adult Learning Center helped make his dream come true.


“First, I thank God and I thank the learning center,” he said. “I’m proud to be a graduate.”


Friday’s lunch was part of the United Way’s annual Day of Caring, which featured more than 60 volunteers working on projects throughout the community.


Some volunteers peeled apples at the senior center, while others got their hands dirty cleaning kennels at the humane society.


“We’re so thankful you chose to spend your morning living united,” Sessions told the volunteers.