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United Way shifts focus with new campaign

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

After more than a century of raising money to benefit local communities, a well-known organization has launched an effort to effect lasting change.

United Way has created a new brand, LIVE UNITED, the organization announced in a press release June 23.

According to Rita Hand, office manager at the United Way office covering Henry, Clayton and Butts counties, the brand represents a shift in focus for the 103-year-old organization.

Hand said although United Way has long had a reputation as a fund-raising group, its leaders are seeking to change that perception. "Rather than throwing a little money at every good program, we want to bring people together to focus more on various issues, so we can have a much greater impact."

The United Way reportedly raised a total of $110.6 million in the local region in 2007.

Some of the societal problems the organization is hoping to change for the better, said Hand, are homelessness and educational opportunities for children.

Other leaders in the organization share Hand's hope for LIVE UNITED. Lynda Smith, area director for United Way in Henry, said she hopes the brand will encourage support for the organization's efforts, on a grander scale.

"LIVE UNITED is telling us that if we all - companies, organizations, groups, individuals - commit to working on a problem together, we can make a huge impact toward solving it."

United Way President Milton Little said the organization strives to maximize efforts of individuals and groups, to increase the quality of life for local areas. He indicated LIVE UNITED would be a significant component in that process.

"The strength of United Way has come from its ability to bring to the table different sectors of our community around one common goal - solving ... issues that are too big for anyone to solve alone," he said. "As we look ahead, our United Way remains focused on supporting the community."

For more information about the organization and LIVE UNITED, visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org or www.myspace.com/unitedwayatlanta.