Employees at the City of Memphis kicked off their United Way campaign this week with some of the city’s greatest talents performing as part of the group’s theme, “Live United: Back to the Good Ole Days.”
Last year, City employees gave $343,000 to United Way and this year, volunteers said “the reasons to give are greater than ever.”
Mance Aytchan from Human Resources encouraged the crowd to give a listen to the “City Hall Talent Review,” where employees performed before a table of serious “judges” from around Memphis to determine the top three acts.
City employees covered artists including The Spinners, Tina Turner (with Ike), The Supremes, Prince, Al Green and Aretha Franklin. Third place went to The Spinners (Code Enforcement employees Charles Brown, Tony Newsome and Chan Higgenbottom), second place went to Tina Turner (Jacquelyn Anderson with Human Resources) and first place was claimed by the artist formerly/presently known as Prince (Cedric Vanhooks with Memphis Fire Department).
The City’s United Way Employee Campaign Chairman George Little (Chief Administration Officer, who can also perform a great Barry White impersonation) and Co-Chairman Quinton Robinson (Director of Human Resources) did a great job taking everyone back to the 1970’s and 1980’s with serenades from city employees. A mirrored disco ball reflected the hundreds of people who were gathered to hear messages of support for United Way.
Bryce Haugsdahl, United Way President, and Amerah Shabazz-Bridges with Memphis Child Advocacy Center spoke to the group about the importance of supporting this year’s United Way campaign. “I can’t thank George and Quinton enough for their creativity, enthusiasm and commitment shown today. In spite of the challenges many city employees face, they are committed to leading the way in support of United Way’s network of nonprofits improving lives everyday in Memphis and the Mid-South,” Haugsdahl said.
Amerah Shabazz-Bridges, agency client and volunteer with the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, shared her story of tragedy and triumph. She explained the feelings of pain, anger, guilt and shame that she felt during an incredibly difficult time of her life, when there was no agency like the Advocacy Center to help abused women and children.
“Our reality today is that funding by United Way is important to keeping the doors of Memphis Child Advocacy Center and other organizations open so they can help victims of abuse. Oh, I am so grateful for the United Way organization,” Shabazz-Bridges said. Shabazz-Bridges is a past recipient of a special recognition award from United Way for her work to support our effort across the region.
Robinson was very pleased with the campaign’s start and added, “We are asking that each one of you think about giving to the United Way. It is truly an organization that helps so many people in need.”
Little ended the event by thanking the crowd for attending and reminded everyone, “We know there is a big need in this community and we all want to do our part.”