ELIZABETHTOWN — According to United Way statistics, the charitable organization has 2.9 million volunteers in 40 countries around the world that have impacted 50,000,000 people through their efforts — including numerous Bladen County residents.
Last year, a Bladen County woman and her two children, 3 and 5 years old, sought help from Families First of Bladen County to get out of a bad situation.
“The mom was doing everything right,” said Vicki Pait, executive director of Families First, “but when they came in the shelter, the children were obviously traumatized and were doing things that made it obvious that sexual assault had occurred — they were exhibiting behavior that normal 3- and 5-year-olds do not exhibit.”
The children, in addition to doing and saying things that were not appropriate, were not eating or sleeping well, and they had become withdrawn. After arriving at the shelter, they were moved to a safe place and began receiving therapy provided by a licensed, professional therapist who had been contracted by Families First.
“They have blossomed,” said Pait. “Their inappropriate behaviors stopped, the oldest is now in school, mom is living on her own, the whole family is out of a violent situation, and everyone is doing great.
“Without that money from United Way — which was used to contract the therapist — we would not have been able to provide that service. Again, I reiterate — it was a result of United Way contributions that this family was able to make the strides they’ve made. Without it, they would be travelling somewhere else or would not be getting it period.”
The children improved so much, in fact, that they were able to cooperate with prosecutors and the police, and their attacker is being prosecuted.
“That’s just one success story,” said Pait. “We have many stories like that.”
“United Way really does make a difference,” said the Rev. Chris Denny, president of Bladen Crisis Assistance, another agency that receives funds from United Way. Denny reported that every dollar given to Bladen Crisis, for example, buys five pounds of food for the food pantry.
“Mostly recently — just this week, in fact — we had a woman who was in a domestic violence situation that we were able to help with temporary housing,” said Denny. “We partnered with other agencies in the community to get her into a safe situation and make sure she was taken care of.”
He added, “Every dollar is vital.”
To continue their benevolence in Bladen County, United Way is hosting a Crazy Run 5K Color Run and Walk on Saturday, Oct. 15. Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children under 12. All money raised stays in Bladen County.
Registration, which is currently open, has not been thus far what organizers hoped.
“Last year our goal was $3,000, and we made over $5,000,” said Bob Mundy, president of Untied Way of Bladen County. “I was over the moon that we made that much profit, and we’re trying to make this year’s event even bigger than last year’s so that we can help more people.”
Advance registration can be found on active.com. Registration may be received via email by commenting on or messaging the run’s Facebook page, or a printable version for multiple registrants can be found at bladen.ces.ncsu.edu. In order to guarantee T-shirt size, registrations must be received by Sept. 30.
On-site registration starts at 7:30 a.m., and the race starts at 9 a.m. at the Industrial Park in Elizabethtown.
For information on the United Way or the Color Run, call 910-876-3720.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.