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home : community : community January 23, 2019

11/24/2018 9:53:00 AM
Kathy Vinzant: Woman Of The Year
Victoria Chapman & Kathy Vinzant
Victoria Chapman & Kathy Vinzant

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

When Victoria Chapman, president of the Lincolnton Business & Professional Women's Club, introduced Kathy Vinzant as the Lincoln County Woman of the Year for 2018, it came as no surprise to many of us who had suggested her for the honor.  She is certainly deserving of recognition for the many things she has done.

I've remarked to Kathy and Wayne Vinzant on many occasions that Seattle's loss is Lincoln County's gain.  The Vinzants moved here from the northwest several years ago and have become leaders in our community and champions of philanthropy and community involvement.

Most readers will know that Kathy is the Executive Director of the United Way of Lincoln County, but perhaps some will not be aware of the things she has done both for that organization and in her previous role with another non-profit.  I have remarked to her that what I appreciate most is that she doesn't just do her job--as many in similar positions might; she goes above and beyond constantly.

This reporter didn't write this article without help.  The information you're about to read came from several of those who believed that Kathy should be the Woman of the Year.  I thank them for their assistance and for recognizing a true public servant who deserves recognition.

For anyone who isn't fully aware, may we offer a bit of information about some of what she has done.

As Executive Director of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse from July 2002- March 2008, she:

  • Implemented seven new Child Abuse Prevention programs
  • Facilitated a women’s support group for victims of abuse
  • Developed and implemented two new training programs that reached over 3200 students and teachers in Lincoln County
  • Increased the number of persons served from 200 in 2001 to over 1500 in 2008
  • Increased funding and revenue of LCCACA by over 2,400% over 6 years
  • Was responsible for obtaining three new grants
                $165,000 Governor's Crime Commission Grant
                $2,000 BFI Grant
                $3,000 Community Foundation Grant
  • Planned and coordinated sixteen new community outreach activities   
  • Designed a new program for elementary school age children “Freedom / Choice”
  • Formed an Education Committee to network with our local schools for child abuse prevention
  • Formed a Speakers Bureau who spoke to over 80 businesses, schools, churches and civic groups  
  • Implemented a Teen Program that was geared toward helping at risk girls with teen pregnancy and a drug abuse prevention program

As Director of the United Way of Lincoln County from 2011 to present she has:

  • Increased funding available to United Way Member Agencies through United Way's Annual Campaign from $325k to $405k (a 24.6% increase). This was in addition to recovering from the campaign losses of approximately 18% that took place during the economic downturn in 2008-2011.
  • Secured an additional $80 thousand plus in funding for member agencies via grants, FEMA and state set-aside funds, outside of the annual campaign.
  • Was instrumental in starting the Lincoln County Kids at Work culinary program for adjudicated youth in Lincoln County, working with Kim Castino (ED for Kids at Work NC)
  • Worked to provide Member Agency status to Hesed House of Hope to allow them to be open year round.
  • Envisioned and facilitated the startup of Ashbury Resource Center (ARC). The ARC provides back to school and summer clothing and school supplies, free of charge, for at risk and underserved Lincoln County school children who otherwise would not be able to afford new school clothes, as they return to school.
  • Envisioned and coordinated the creation of a community park at the Communities in Schools location for the Oaklawn community. The new park includes basketball and bocce ball courts, a soccer field and an outdoor pavilion, including picnic tables for families to use for outdoor dining. 
  • Envisioned and started "CONNECTION FOR A CAUSE” a gathering of non-profit groups that meets monthly to help non-profits and agencies take a more comprehensive view of the needs of our community and to address those needs in a holistic way. The partnership is focused on solutions for stabilizing, strengthening, and building self-reliance for people in Lincoln County.
  • Strengthened and made 2-1-1 phone & website information more readily available and relevant to the citizens of Lincoln County. This allows Lincoln County residents to find assistance and resources available to them by calling 2-1-1 or going to The 2-1-1 program helps people connect with over 18,000 health and human resources throughout NC and provides info for Employment Assistance, Food Pantries, Homeless Shelters & more!
  • Hosted a poverty simulation to help leaders of Lincoln County understand the impacts of poverty on individuals at a personal level.

Lincoln County Tax Dept. - List Taxes 2019

Some of those (there were others) who sent letters to the BPW nominating Kathy for the honor shared their comments with us:

Alisha Dameron, Senior Director at Sally's Y wrote:

I would like to nominate Kathy Vinzant, Director of Lincoln County United Way. Her heart for this community never ceases to amaze me and other business leaders. She is very active on the Chamber, Rotary and other committees in community. She has headed several projects in the community in recent years that include Asbury Resource Center, Communities in Schools Resource Center in the Oaklawn community, increased funding for local non-profits, book-back program and so much more. She is devoted to serving this community with an open and humble heart.

Bill Lampley wrote:

I first became acquainted with Kathy Vinzant during calendar year 2012 when I served on the allocations committee of United Way of Lincoln County. From there, I became Fundraising Chairman in 2013. Upon successful completion of that year’s campaign, I became President of the Board during 2014 and subsequent to that year, became Finance Chair and continued in that role until leaving the board on 3/31/18.

My purpose for outlining my involvement is so you will know that I have had the opportunity to work closely with Kathy for about a six-year period of time. With all honesty, I can say I have never worked with such a caring, giving and conscientious individual in any organization, much less a non-profit like United Way. Kathy cares deeply about Lincoln County and for the agencies that United Way supports. She basically is the organization except for one part-time helper. Kathy gives countless hours in meeting with different organizations informing them on (1) what United Way is, (2) how United Way operates, and (3) how she and the board make sure that the administrative costs of running the organization are kept to a minimum in order to provide the most funding available to each of the agencies United Way of Lincoln County supports. Kathy is tireless, fearless and relentless in her belief that United Way of Lincoln County works for the betterment of the community as a whole and she practices that belief, not just giving it lip service. You constantly see her at numerous functions and meetings representing not only United Way, but also making sure that the organization is a good community citizen; Living United! It is my distinct pleasure and honor to place her name into nomination for Woman of the Year.

Cliff Brumfield wrote:

Her work at not only our local United Way but her time in her previous role at the Children’s Advocacy Center, her assistance to many, many other community projects and needs, and her selfless heart bring her name to the very top of the list when I think of who would be worthy of the distinction of Woman of the Year. She returns more than her compensation back to our community for those in need, as she feels she is more than adequately blessed. She will not stop working and giving until she feels satisfied she has provided the same blessings to others.

Elaine Jenkins wrote:

In every community there are a few individuals who have both a broad and a deep understanding of the opportunities and services that are available to the public. They make it their life’s work to serve as many people as possible in the most compassionate way possible, understanding that a caring community is a mentally, physically, and emotionally strong place to live and to raise children. Such is the case with my nominee for the 2018 Lincoln County Woman of the Year, Kathy Vinzant.

Kathy Vinzant has spent much of her adult life in pursuit of locating and delivering the best possible care to the citizens of Lincoln County. A former director of the Coalition against Child Abuse, Kathy worked tirelessly until she – along with many volunteers - established the first Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center which continues today to make a vital contribution to the community.

In 2012, Kathy was named the Executive Director of the United Way of Lincoln County. In order to be successful, this position is one that requires an array of skills making it a more difficult leadership challenge than many realize. Every United Way exists only at the pleasure of its citizens, and Kathy has worked tirelessly to create an organization that is transparent in its administration, dynamic in purpose, and successful in implementation. Under her leadership, the UW Board has included executive leadership from Lincoln County’s strongest employers along with administrators from various service providers. This board provides active leadership for the budget and service plans in a way that has led to widespread confidence in the organization. The dynamic partnership that has been created between the United Way Board and the industries of Lincoln County with Kathy’s leadership has led to a strong and steady increase in funding.

Without a doubt however, the most difficult task of the United Way is to work effectively with the fourteen agencies that accept funds. In Lincoln County we have a wonderful group of agencies, but their services are diverse and their staffs range broadly from organizations with paid executive and staff to those with volunteers only. Kathy knows each and every one of these groups well and addresses their individual strengths while challenging them in a caring and professional manner. What is amazing to me is that she can be found at their various fund raisers working as a volunteer herself!

She has expanded the work of the Teen Board which recruits and involves local teenagers in the work of United Way. With projects like an Angel Tree, free prom dress giveaways, and others, Kathy is raising the next generation of community leaders to be sensitive to the problems of their communities.

Each year the United Way Day of Action addresses one or two projects that are submitted by the community and can be resolved basically in one to two big days of work. Kathy has overseen the work of volunteers around the county who find joy in helping those in need.

Non-profit work is challenging at best, but Kathy has made it her life’s work to serve her neighbors. It is no wonder that when I have heard that someone has an issue, the next words are: “So we called Kathy Vinzant, and she helped us get some answers.”

Thank you for considering this wonderful servant-leader for this important honor.

Marissa Smith wrote:

From the moment Kathy became Director of United Way she made a positive impact on the volunteers and the staffs of the 13 United Way Agencies. These agencies make available a variety of services for our community, which without extra funding we would not have access to. People do not realize the scope and breadth of this need, nor the amount of time Kathy devotes to each one. She works tirelessly to help them. Her help is through promoting each agency, helping them through A Day of Action, Denver Days, at the Apple Festival, and finding ways to encourage others to support each one. Since Kathy has been director of the United Way our county has been able to add Hesed House, a support system for the homeless in our county, which now is able to stay open all year long. She also finds ways for the agencies to work to support each other.
She networks with companies to garner much needed support. Her work with Leadership Lincoln classes has opened many people’s eyes to the needs of our county. The Agency Fair held at the hospital in Lincolnton allows others to learn about many support systems. Kathy is always finding innovative ways to reach out to donors. She implemented A Christmas Gala.

Faith is important in her life as she has been trained as a Stephen Minister. It takes 50 hours to become a Stephen Minister. Kathy lives her faith by reaching out to others in need. If there is a need in our community, she will be the first to find a way to help. She reaches out to churches in our community. One church, Asbury United Methodist, assisted her in starting the ARC (Asbury Resource Center). This center helps teachers provide much needed clothing and supplies for Lincoln County students who would otherwise go without.

This is only a brief snap shot of Kathy, it does not truly capture how hard she works for Lincoln County. To know Kathy is to understand what the best of Lincoln County is, a wonderful, giving community.

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