United Way serving more clients in hard times

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By April Wright, Reporter

Celeste Amburn, the new executive director of the Twin County United Way, recently introduced herself to Galax City Council, saying that it's important to spread the word of TCUW since it is utilized more than ever by all walks of life.

She said that since the downturn in the economy, TCUW is being used by people she never thought would end up needing assistance.

“Everybody knows about the hospital and the other entities, but they don't know that we're located in Galax and serve Grayson and Carroll counties,” Amburn said.

TCUW financially assists 28 agencies in the Twin County area and creates a network of needed services, such as fire and rescue, disaster relief, emergency housing and fuel assistance. It also places volunteers and acts as a referral service.

“People often call and say 'where can I go to get this.' I will help you,” she said. “And I won't stop until I have the answer.”

TCUW was started in Galax in 1957 by businessmen. In 1980, the fundraising goal to help various service agencies was $40,000. Now, it's $212,000.

The way to reach this goal is through corporate campaigns, fundraisers and personal donations.

“I'm asking you to help spread the word,” she told council members. “I ask for you to think how it's helped you, a friend or family member, whether it put a Band-Aid on someone in the back of the ambulance, helped someone who was cold or helped put out the fire you never thought would get out of control.”

Fundraising season for TCUW is between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15. However, Amburn said she plans to change those dates to be more a part of downtown events during the summer.

Amburn stepped into the position last fall after former executive director Kim Rosenbaum left to take another job.

Amburn is a nurse by trade, serves as president of the Galax Crime Prevention Coalition and is a member of the Twin County Prevention Coalition. She has worked in North Carolina as a geriatric nurse and at Rooftop of Virginia Head Start in Galax.

“Community is my life. I love to help, love to fundraise and love Galax,” she told council.