The United Way of Paducah-McCracken County held its season-ending Victory Celebration Thursday at Walker Hall, honoring the people and businesses who made a great impact on the agency’s fundraising efforts.

The agency raised just over $2 million in the 2021-22 campaign, whose theme was “Reimagine.” Of that total, $839,017 was raised through the campaign, $22,615 was raised through in-kind donations, $15,000 was raised through gifts to endowments and $1.2 million was raised through disaster relief, which will be ongoing into the 2022-23 campaign.

The Victory Celebration itself raised $45,951, while the United Way’s other fundraising event, Power of the Purse, brought in $34,938.

From the funds raised over the last year, 25% went to bolster education, 45% impacted income and 30% improved health in the community.

United Way Executive Director Betsy Burkeen said the organization has been a part of the Paducah-McCracken County community since 1935, when it started as the Community Chest of Paducah.

She added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way staff have had to learn different ways to raise funds and motivate people into giving.

“We’re seeing results from that,” she said. “People are responding. We were able to get a lot of support for disaster relief in the past year.

“Time and time again, the Paducah-McCracken County community just shows up and shows out to help their neighbor. It’s always so inspiring and just a breath of fresh air to be reminded how kind people really are to help each other.”

Burkeen said the primary source of donations is through payroll deductions, where workers request to have a portion of their pay be sent regularly to the United Way.

The 2021-22 campaign saw 600 volunteers support 26 programs helping 14 local agencies.

Project United, which is sponsored by UBS Financial Services, had 30 teams and a total of 430 volunteers for 55 projects helping 18 agencies. Teams came from schools, industries and business groups working on projects such as painting, landscaping and office support.

Burkeen said the United Way would continue raising funds to help tornado victims in Graves, Marshall, Fulton and Hickman counties.

“We’ve got committees in each of those counties with community leaders and people who are involved with long-term recovery groups to help decide how to allocate the funding best, to help the most people and families who were impacted from that disaster,” she said.

“We are committed to long-term recovery.”

The United Way of Paducah-McCracken County presented several awards Wednesday, recognizing those who contributed time or funding to the organization. The 2021-22 award winners were:

• Overall Campaign of the Year: Computer Services, Inc.

• Largest Campaign Increase: City of Paducah.

• New Supporter of the Year: Housing Authority of Paducah.

• Live United Corporate Sponsorship: Baird Private Wealth Management Group.

• Live United Nonprofit of the Year: Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church.

• Samuel S. Sloan Employee Campaign Coordinator of the Year: McKenzie Huskey, City of Paducah.

• Live United Impact Award for Education: Geco Ross, Paducah Independent School District.

• Live United Impact Award for Income: Ashley Miller, Lifeline Recovery Center.

• Live United Impact Award for Health: Raynarldo Henderson, pastor of Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church.

• Live United Impact Award for Youth: Addison Allen, McCracken County High School graduate.

• Ladd Mathis Lifetime Achievement Award: Caroline Korte.

The final action of the annual year-end celebration was the passing of the gavel from outgoing president Sherry Wessel to incoming president Lesley Owen.

Those who want to make a donation to the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County can visit, bring the donation to the United Way office at 333 Broadway St., Suite 502, or call the United Way office at 270-442-1691.

Those wanting to volunteer may also use those means to contact the United Way.

Follow David B. Snow on Twitter, @SunWithSnow, or on Facebook at

Follow David B. Snow on Twitter, @SunWithSnow, or on Facebook at

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