“I live on my own now,” she said, addressing attendees of the United Way of Bartow County’s annual meeting. “I have a vehicle and I’m in school and I’m also helping to care for my [sisters]. ... I want to be a big part of my sisters’ lives and helping them get to where they need to be but I also want better for myself. I get to see Jessica [Mitcham, Good Neighbor’s executive director] and other people that I look up to, I have the privilege of being close to you guys and getting to see what you do and, I think, that that’s what motivates me to want to be like you guys and do something important.”
Since forming in 1996, the Good Neighbor has served more than 4,600 people. On average, the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001 assists nearly 400 individuals per year. While they are housed, Good Neighbor’s guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter’s staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options.
“[The opportunity to help guests at Good Neighbor] means a lot,” Montoya said. “Whenever I speak to them, I kind of feel it, like I know what they’ve went through or [are] going through. It helps me to see them succeed. It brings me happiness.”
At Tuesday’s gathering, the Good Neighbor was one of several United Way agencies that were highlighted, detailing their contributions to the community. With the United Way of Bartow County’s 2012 fundraising campaign surpassing its goal of $500,000, organizations like the Good Neighbor will receive needed financial support to bolster their efforts.
Giving thanks to their supporters, representatives of the United Way celebrated its recent campaign at the nonprofit’s annual meeting and luncheon.
“I would like to say thank you to all of the United Way of Bartow County agencies and their staff,” said Brenda Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County. “As you can see, they are making a difference in our community every day and without these dedicated individuals our community would suffer.
“These agencies, they house the homeless, they feed the hungry, they help victims of single home fires, natural disasters, provide medical services for those who don’t have insurance, guide the youth in the community and the list goes on and on. Every fall, United Way campaigns to help raise money for these agencies so that they can continue to help Bartow County.”
Started in September, the “Be the Change” fundraising effort generated $518,267. The campaign primarily generated funds through payroll deductions, which enables employees to donate a minimal amount yearlong, with a portion of their paycheck designated to the United Way.
Funds raised through the campaign will be dispersed, based on need, to United Way’s 16 agencies: AIDS Alliance of Northwest Georgia, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, Bartow County 4-H Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, Bartow Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross, Christian League for Battered Women, New Beginnings Food Outreach, The Salvation Army, Good Shepherd Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hickory Log Vocational School, North Bartow Community Services, Bartow Health Access and Advocates for Children. Combined, the nonprofits serve about 60,000 people each year.
“Our ‘Be the Change’ campaign for 2012 was a very successful campaign,” Morehouse said. “Considering all the problems with our economy, United Way of Bartow County continued to grow with donations. The guidance of the board of directors, the work of our campaign committee and the amazing people of this community made it happen this year. We wouldn’t be anywhere close to our fundraising goal each year without our biggest supporters: Shaw Industries, Anheuser-Busch, Publix and Georgia Power. These companies give a tremendous amount through corporate donations and also encourage their employees to give through payroll deduction.
“… And although it is too many to mention, United Way also wants to thank all the retailers, small businesses and individual donors for their participation in United Way. They also play a huge role in the success of our campaign each year. Our annual report recognizes everyone that helped with our campaign. I wish we had time to read [each] name and [the] list of the wonderful things they did, but I know they didn’t do it for the recognition or an award — they did it because they care and they wanted to make a difference.”
The annual meeting also featured remarks from 2012 Chairman Angela Thomas Cooley and various individuals were highlighted for their contributions to the local United Way. In addition to Michael Ball receiving the Matthew D. Hill Volunteer of the Year Award, Edward Hoggs was presented with the Pinnacle Award. Also recognized was Kay House, director of North Bartow Community Services, for her service to the Adairsville community.
Following Good Neighbor’s presentation, Timothy Daniel spoke on behalf of the Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity. Initially describing his residence as a “gift from heaven,” his Habitat home was constructed in 2012.
To help remove the limits imposed by his multiple sclerosis, Daniel’s four-bedroom, two-bathroom residence on Douglas Street in Cartersville contains features that were installed with his health condition in mind, such as a wheelchair ramp, lower countertops, laminate flooring and a seat in the shower.
“I didn’t think I would qualify for it but we went ahead and, long story shortwe started building our house [last] March,” Daniel said. “From day one, my hard-headed self was out there, [I] was out there building, hammering nails and the days we couldn’t work there, we’d work at the Habitat [ReSale] Store.
“… The helpers, oh my God, we had people coming with skilled labor that was unbelievable. Every day they came. It was just awesome. Wells Fargo sent  people. … I am so thankful to them. [Habitat Executive Director] Robin [Hooker] and [Habitat Administrative Assistant] Kathy [Stringer], they’ve been godsends to us because at one time I didn’t think as a MS patient that I would be the owner of a home.”
Since forming in 1984, Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity has constructed about 40 residences.
An average of 150 people applies each year, with 10 percent of their applications being further reviewed. To be approved, applicants need to satisfy various requirements, such as meeting income guidelines, living or working in Bartow County for at least one year, contributing at least 450 hours in their home’s construction and being able to pay for their residence. Valued about $140,000, the nonprofit’s homes are sold for about $80,000. House payments issued by Habitat range from $400 to $450 a month, which includes taxes and insurance.
For more information about the United Way and its agencies, call 770-386-1677 or visit www.bartowliveunited.org.