About Us 2017-12-18T14:28:47+00:00

About Us


United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.

Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region.

Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers almost 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, and the cities of Galax and Norton.


We are more than the fundraisers. We are the hand-raisers. The game-changers.

  • We create local, innovative solutions that tackle the toughest problems in the areas of health, education and financial stability.
  • We offer local expertise and a global footprint.
  • We provide leadership, influence and a trusted brand.
  • We are one network of individuals and organizations in nearly 1,800 communities, working together to inspire and transform.


Together, we take a hard, long look at the problems facing our communities.

We involve experts, leaders, practitioners and neighborhoods. We work across partisan and income divides, leading community conversations and bringing people from all walks of life into the solution conversation.

Whether we’re driving agencies to common outcomes, leading an initiative or creating collective impact, United Way is a driving force—in communities and for communities.

United Way makes it easier to make a meaningful difference, whether it’s through time, money or by raising one’s voice. We’re helping corporate partners launch and grow employee volunteerism in key overseas markets. We’re connecting people with easy and inspirational volunteer opportunities, staging volunteerism events, creating leadership—development opportunities and helping rising community leaders step into board service.

But there is more work to do, because change doesn’t happen alone. Hope isn’t a one-man band. We have one life. To live better, we must LIVE UNITED.

Our Program Services


United Way of Southwest Virginia is building a healthier, more resilient community by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, expanding access to quality health care, lowering the cost of prescription medications, and integrating health into early childhood development.


The Healthy Communities Action Team’s current program links elementary school students in Smyth County to physical activities (biking, fishing, golf, disc golf and swimming) and outings that align with Southwest Virginia’s abundant natural resources and recreational infrastructure. The HCAT is part of a grant initiative awarded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth.


United Way of Southwest Virginia developed the Uniting for Play grant initiative to develop and improve local partner programs that involve children in active play and limit screen time.


Al’s Pals is a comprehensive curriculum and teacher training program that develops social-emotional skills, self-control, problem-solving abilities, and healthy decision-making in children ages 3-8 years old. The Al’s Pal’s program is part of a grant initiative awarded through the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth.


FamilyWize improves the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities through its partnerships with more than 100,000 community organizations to make prescription medication more affordable and more accessible for all.


Backpacks Unite provides nutritious weekend meals during each school year to almost 1,000 elementary and middle school aged students throughout Southwest Virginia ensuring that students come to school Monday ready to learn and ready to succeed.


United Way of Southwest Virginia makes sure children and youth can start school ready to succeed, become proficient readers at a young age, stay on track in middle school, earn their high school diploma, and pursue a higher education or career.


Smart Beginnings brings together community partners dedicated to creating a quality early childhood system of care that improves the access to, the quality of, and the coordination of services for young children and their families. Smart Beginnings is part of a grant initiative awarded through the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.


Virginia Quality leads the way for high quality early education for our youngest Virginians by setting standards for quality and providing a path for continuous quality improvement at child care centers, preschools and family child care homes across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Quality is part of a grant initiative funded through the Virginia Department of Social Services.


Ignite sparks students’ interest in career opportunities by connecting schools and students with employers and employees through career guidance, shadowing, mentoring, and work-based learning.


United Way of Southwest Virginia empowers people to get on stable financial ground with proven methods like tax preparation assistance through sites across the region and community partnerships aimed at helping local families keep their hard-earned money. The result is a thriving community where everyone has more opportunity to succeed.


The United Way of Southwest Virginia Financial Empowerment Network exists to provide a set of bundled, skills-building services for the region’s workforce. We’re empowering our hard-working Southwest Virginians to get on stable financial ground by helping them build their ability to manage money and use financial services that work for them.


United Way and H&R Block have partnered since 2009 to promote MyFreeTaxes to help support the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. Families and individuals who earn $64,000 a year or less are able to file state and federal returns for free, which helps them maximize their tax refunds.


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) links individuals and families who earn less than $54,000 a year with volunteers who prepare their tax returns for free, boosting a family’s yearly income by an average of $261. Our partnership with VITA helps families in Southwest Virginia keep more of their hard-earned money.

Our Partner Agencies

Our 2017-2018 Partner Agencies are as follows:

Financial Empowerment Network

Southwest VA Workforce Development Board
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VT)

Grade Level Reading

Bland County Public School
HELP – Turning Pages
Norton Preschool Classroom
Smyth County Schools

Healthy Eating

Mountain Empire Older Citizens
Teen Venture Center

Ignite (Youth Success)

Clinch Valley Community Action
Rooftop of Virginia CAP
Southwest VA AHEC
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VT)
Washington County 4-H

Children’s Oral Health and Prevention Services

Mountain Empire Older Citizens

Uniting for Play

Dante Community Association
Giles County FOCUS Project
Smyth County Special Games
Sugar Grove Elementary School
Town of Dungannon Playground

Our Board

United Way of Southwest Virginia is a volunteer-directed organization. We are governed by a local volunteer Board of Directors that represents every sector and region that we serve.

The Board is comprised of local business and civic leaders from throughout the community. Members provide leadership for vision and overall direction, approve the annual business plan, goals and priority outcomes, monitor progress, and have a fiduciary responsibility for the programmatic and fiscal integrity of the organization.

2017 Executive Committee
Marie Appleby, Chair of the Board
Donnie Meadows, Vice Chair
Mary Begley, 2nd Vice Chair
Alan Jones, Jr., Treasurer
Paul Cox, Vice Treasurer
Barbara Farmer, Secretary

2017 Board Members
Tommy Casteel
Lori Crisp
Kim Farris-Luke
Henry Hartsock
Deborah Icenhour
Steve Kegley
Dan Minahan
Audrey Powers
Brad Robinson
Dr. Mike Robinson

Our Staff

Our extraordinary team is responsible for the day-to-day operation of United Way of Southwest Virginia. Our United Way team includes administrative staff, as well as program directors and coordinators of services United Way of Southwest Virginia provides to the community in the areas of health, education and financial stability.

Our Corporate and Media Partners

These companies and organizations have made living united a top priority.

Our Accountability

For United Way, success means measurable improvements in the communities we serve. Setting high standards for ourselves and for our local partners is critical for that success. Click here to see the standards we adhere to.