Two local United Ways announce merger

United Way Virginia Highlands and Twin County United Way announced today that they will merge to form one organization committed to improving lives and creating lasting community-level change across the region.

The combined organization will operate under the title United Way Virginia Highlands and will continue to serve all five counties of Carroll, Grayson, Russell, Smyth, Washington and the City of Galax, Virginia.

Moving forward, United Way Virginia Highlands will have a greater capacity to engage donors, advocates, and volunteers to address the critical issues facing our local communities. 

Travis Staton, President and CEO of United Way Virginia Highlands will continue to serve as President and CEO of the growing organization.

"By coming together and sharing our talent, resources and best practices, we will be able to deliver greater impact to those who need us most in our communities across the region," said Staton. "While for-profit mergers are often about increasing shareholder value, non-profit mergers are about amplifying mission.

As an organization, United Way Virginia Highlands believes in the power of collaboration and partnerships to solve problems because we know the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts." 

The process was led by a team comprised of dedicated staff and volunteer leaders from each organization, who spent time exploring the opportunity and working together to ensure the combined United Way is positioned for success.

"This has been a thorough and thoughtful process. We are excited to come together and build on one another's strengths to create a lasting impact for the region," said Alan Jones Jr., Senior Vice President and Controller, Alpha Natural Resources, and Board Chairman of United Way Virginia Highlands. 

The monies raised through the annual campaign will continue to be used to serve the communities from which the monies are raised.

A Board of Directors made up of individuals from each of the six localities will manage the governance of the new regional organization. Members joining the board from the Twin County region are Larry Bolt, Commissioner of Revenue, representing Grayson County, Franklin Jett, of Mt. Rogers Carroll Counseling Center, representing Carroll County, and Dana Olson, also from Mt. Rogers Carroll Counseling Center, representing the City of Galax. United Way Virginia Highlands will maintain an office in Galax which will serve as a base for Twin County related operations and as a convenience to the general public, leaders and workers in the Twin County Region. 

"This merger is the product of hard work and diligence on the part of the Board of Directors of both Twin County United Way and United Way Virginia Highlands," said Ron Passmore, past Board Chairman of Twin County United Way. "I am confident in the work that will be done regionally and believe that it will only be strengthened by this decision."

The newly merged entity will encompass more than 28 towns and one city, serving over 168,000 residents, covering nearly 2,500 square miles and will continue to serve as one of the largest non-government health and human services funders in Southwest Virginia. United Way Virginia Highlands currently supports more than 70 non-profit agencies across Carroll, Grayson, Russell, Smyth and Washington Counties and the City of Galax, Virginia. 

In 1963 a group of local citizens formed the United Way of Washington County. In August 2009, United Way of Washington County grew to encompass Russell County and was incorporated into United Way of Russell and Washington Counties.

On September 4, 2012, United Way of Russell and Washington Counties merged with Smyth County United Way, and the organization's name was changed to United Way Virginia Highlands.

United Way Virginia Highlands is a volunteer organization providing support and visibility through tools, partners, advocacy, and other resources to advance the common good.

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