United way getting reorganized in Sevier County

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) --- The United Way in Sevier County is getting reorganized and a new board has been put into place. Fundraising for groups in need expected to start in the fall.

Community leaders have rallied in Sevier County to save the United Way from closing, say the organization won't be shutting down.
At the Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, there's a smaller staff. After funding cuts last year, the group had to cut their staff in half.

"We are one of the agencies that can't show you a bunch of happy faces, because of client confidentiality, so the work we do runs under the radar most of the time," said Donna Koester, with Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center. "As devastating as the abuse is, the therapy program is the main artery if you will, for helping them heal through their abuse."

The executive Director says last year they did 981 therapy sessions with abused children. They expect to do half that number this year.

The United Way of Sevier County is still open with their office in Gatlinburg. The former board voted to close down at the first of the year. That's when a group of community leaders stepped up and formed a completely new board to keep it from shutting down.

The board met with nearly 20 different organizations that get funding support from the United Way. The group says they're changing the way they raise money, and hope to be able to support the groups again in 2014.

"We've made a lot of good progress in rebuilding that and so we're really excited about the direction the United way is going in," said Allen Newton, with the United Way. "We certainly hope to be able to fund those again at a really nice level following this 2013 campaign."

The United Way hopes to hire a new Executive Director by June with a fundraising campaign set for the fall of this year.

"We're thrilled, our Government and civic leaders have stepped up to the plate yet again here in Sevier County and I feel the horizon shines bright for the agency it supports," said Koester.

Safe Harbor supports Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson and Sevier Counties. The loss in funding has hurt the work they do in each of the counties.

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