Remembering Ron Drago

In lieu of flowers, Ron’s family has asked that memorial gifts be made to United Way of Forsyth County. Click here to make a memorial gift.

Ronald Joseph Drago passed away Sunday, May 20, 2018, after several years debilitated by Lewy body dementia. He was born on October 10, 1945 in Easton, PA, to Mae Bubba Holden. He was preceded in death by his mother, and his brother Robert Holden. He is survived by the loves of this life: his wife of 46 years, Lucinda Mahoney Drago; his son, Michael Drago (Paulette), Knightdale, NC; his daughter, Sarah Talman (Stefan), New York City; grandchildren: new born twins Grace and Ethan Drago, Gabby Phanor, and Jelena Cherubin; and his sister, Cynthia Holden Wimer. Emmaus, PA.

He graduated from Easton High School, and East Stroudsburg University, where he was also a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1967-69), in Sierra Leone, West Africa. His international experience continued with the US Agency for International Development in Danang and Saigon, Vietnam (1971-75). Following the end of the Vietnam War, Ron led the staff of International Rescue Committee at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, Seattle, WA, and Bangkok, Thailand, to assist in the resettlement of Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, and Cambodian refugees.

His 30-year career with United Way began in Harrisburg, PA, and included serving as the President of United Way of Northampton and Warren Counties (Easton and Bethlehem, PA), and of United Way of Wake County (Raleigh, NC). He retired after 16 years as the President of United Way of Forsyth County in 2011. He was passionate about the mission of the United Way to develop community-based collaborations to meet the needs of individuals in the areas of basic needs, education, financial stability, and health. His special forte was fundraising and strategic planning. He was inspired by the commitment of volunteer business and community leaders dedicated to creating positive changes in human services. Ron enjoyed filling his yard with pots of flowers, cheering for Wake Forest basketball and football teams as well as his lifelong loved New York Giants, meeting the early morning with a daily run, and adding to his Santa collection. He was always impeccably attired from his blue button-down lightly starched shirt in his African village to his coordinated running shorts with tucked in shirt.

A Memorial Mass will be held at St .Leo the Great Catholic Church, Winston-Salem, NC, on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the United Way of Forsyth County, 301 North Main Street, Suite 1700, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Online condolences may be made at

Tocqueville Society Dinner Announced

We are excited to announce our annual Tocqueville Society invitation only dinner is just around the corner on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

We will celebrate philanthropic leaders across our community and showcase the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors!

Origins of the Tocqueville Society

Only 26 years old when he came to the United States and Canada in 1831, Alexis Charles-Henri de Tocqueville traveled extensively, recording his observations of life in the young nations.

Though he only spent nine months in North America, he gleaned many profound insights about American society. His observations, readings and discussions with eminent Americans formed the basis of Democracy in America, a detailed study of American society and politics published in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840.

Tocqueville recognized, applauded and immortalized North American voluntary action on behalf of the common good. He wrote: “I must say that I have seen Americans make a great deal of real sacrifices to the public welfare; and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend a faithful support to one another,” eloquently capturing the essence of personal philanthropy that persists almost three centuries later.

The observations on philanthropy made by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 are true today; North Americans understand that advancing the common good means creating opportunities for a better life for all. The name Tocqueville Society was chosen because of Alexis de Tocqueville’s admiration for the spirit of voluntary association and effort toward its advancement.

Membership Benefits

Specific local Tocqueville Society benefits differ by location; however, all Tocqueville Society members benefit from:

  • Joining a national network of philanthropic leaders who are engaged locally to create long-lasting, positive changes
  • Partnering with a quality organization and dedicated staff; ensuring that gifts, voice, and time are efficiently invested in local communities to maximize impact
  • The unique position of United Way as one of the world’s premier philanthropic organizations which can be used to convene community business and civic leaders focused on the building blocks of a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job; income that can support a family through retirement; and good health.
  • Local Tocqueville Society leaders along with National Society and Million Dollar Roundtable members are invited to attend national and worldwide gatherings of Tocqueville and Million Dollar Roundtable Members.

Contact Cathy Coles at or call 336.721.9370 to learn how you can become involved in the United Way Tocqueville Society and/or to inquire about membership benefits.

Turn Your Spring Cleaning into Community Impact

Spring is finally here, a time when flowers bloom, daylight lasts longer and the smell of freshly cut grass lingers in the air—unless you live in the northeast, where snow is blanketing the streets and smothering dreams of warmer days ahead. Whether you’re outdoors soaking in the sun, or inside staying warm, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. This year, consider adding community impact to your list of things to do. Here are four ways you can give back through your spring-cleaning routine:

Change lives by cleaning out your closet: According to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report, there are more than 500,000 homeless people in America. When it’s time to conduct your spring cleaning, peruse your wardrobe—or your child’s—and see if there’s anything that can be donated to your local thrift store. An old sweater or pair of shoes may not be useful to you, but it could mean the world to someone in need.

Put your elbow grease to greater use: Have a slew of chores you need to tackle? When you’ve finished fixing the stairs and spreading the mulch, flex your muscles for the greater good—call your local United Way and ask if there are any community-building projects in the area. Around this time of year, building homes and creating community gardens is common. By volunteering your time, you can help house a family or rebuild a low-income community in disrepair.

Be mindful of your water usage: When you’re watering your lawn or plants, it’s easy to get carried away or forget to turn off the faucet. Today, in celebration of World Water Day, do your part by saving water when you can. From checking your pipes, faucets and toilets for leaks, to turning off the bathroom faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, you can help tackle local water shortages and contribute to a water-saving culture. Every drop helps.

Rethink your spring break: Switch up your family vacation this spring. Instead of trekking to the beach, head over to a local food bank and lend a helping hand. Food banks are always looking for volunteers to help with packing meals, sorting non-perishables and providing nutritious meals to those individuals experiencing homelessness or hunger. Not only will you be helping others in their time of need, but you’ll be teaching your kids the importance of volunteerism.
Unexpected snowfall aside, spring is a perfect time for you to make a mark in your community. So, slap on those sneakers, roll up your sleeves and get going—a few hours of your time will make a lifetime of difference for your neighbors in need.


3 Ways to Build the Workforce of Tomorrow

Kids who have hope for the future tend to be successful in school and in life. This hope can come from caring adults who make time to connect with kids. Especially if they can share how and why they work where they do.  This purpose and connection gives students reasons to hope, illuminate a path forward and contribute to developing the healthy and active workers our economy needs.

Here are three ways that volunteers can help students have hope today and build the workforce of tomorrow.

  1. Host a career fair. Career fairs are one way you can lift people out of poverty. For example, high schoolers attending the IT United Technology Career Fair talk with IT professionals about their work, watch demonstrations of innovative technologies, and imagine a better future for themselves. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County host the event on campus, so that teenage students can interact with college students like Katrina Hightower, who got a full-time IT internship at Manpower after volunteering at the fair.
  2. Invite students to the workplace. “Show, don’t tell” is Northwestern Mutual’s motto for how to plan a great experience for students. Students play games designed just for them to learn what it is really like to be a software developer, and interact with professionals throughout a day of activities.
  3. Teach the softer skills. United Way of San Diego County invites volunteers to help students with mock interviews and to visit classrooms to teach other essential soft skills, like being a good team player and communicator. Students also are hungry for “common sense” tips, such as wearing nicely ironed clothes to an interview and learning how to tie a necktie. Volunteers also organize professional clothing drives and “shopping days” at schools, where they help students choose appropriate attire for transitioning to the workforce.

These and other United Way volunteer opportunities address an increasing interest by companies in providing their employees with more personalized, skills-based volunteering. I hope you’ll volunteer to share your professional insights and skills, and inspire young people to stay in school, work harder while they are there and hope for a productive future.

By Mei Cobb

Dream Maker: Barbara Duck

“Through the United Way, I discovered a passion I never knew existed.”

Barbara Duck is a mom, mentor, and bank executive. Admittedly, Barbara was really only active in community service through her church prior to moving to Winston-Salem for her role at BB&T. But this relocation is where she found her passion for moving the community needle.

She discovered the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, which allowed her to become more involved in the bank and the community. It is here she learned the power of women connecting with other women, and how those relationships have led to community-changing philanthropy in Forsyth County. “The giving decisions of these women have changed educational outcomes in our community, and individuals are impacted by the collective work of women,” Barbara remarked.

Barbara’s newfound passion in the Women’s Leadership Council inspired her to create. She has committed time and resources to developing the Women’s Information Network at BB&T, also known as W.I.N., which focuses on ways to provide women with resources. With 70% of BB&T’s workforce being female, this gives them access to tools to help manage their careers and find mentors.

Today, we celebrate Barbara Duck as a DREAM MAKER. For leading innovative and systemic change in our Forsyth County!

Community-Wide and Place Matters Program Investments: FY 2017/2018

Click here to download this document as a printable PDF.

Program Name

Lead Agency

Community-Wide (CW) or Place Matters (PM)

Collaborating Partners

Revised Program Funding Level*

Outpatient Therapy Alexander Youth Network

(formerly Youth Opportunities)




Response Recovery American Red Cross




Therapeutic Day Program Amos Cottage


WS/FC Schools


Emergency Day and Night Shelter Bethesda Center


Insight Human Services


Big Achievers Big Brothers Big Sisters




Therapy Bowman Gray Child Guidance




Learning for Life Boy Scouts


WS/FC Schools


Patient Advocate and Minority Outreach Cancer Services


Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Novant Health

Multiple Area Churches


Young Parent Support Program Catholic Charities


Forsyth Tech


The Nest Centers for Exceptional Children


Integrating Primary Medical Care in a Substance Abuse/Mental Health Setting Community Care Center


Insight Human Services


Providing Access to Healthcare Services and Medicines for Low Income Uninsured Residents Community Care Center




African American Males Pursuing Educational Dreams Crosby Scholars




Day and Employment Supports Enrichment Center




Parent Aide & Welcome Baby Exchange SCAN




STA Safe Exchange SCAN




Asset Building Connectors Experiment in Self-Reliance




New Century IDA (Individual Development Accounts) Program Experiment in Self-Reliance




Pathways of Caring/Transitional Housing Experiment in Self-Reliance




Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Experiment in Self-Reliance




Ways to Work Family Services




Strong@Home Family Services


Habitat for Humanity

Goodwill Industries


Financial Pathways of the Piedmont


Mental Health Counseling Family Services




Safe Relationships/Child Abuse Family Services




Safe Relationships/Intimate Partner Violence Family Services




School-Based Counseling Family Services




Comprehensive Relapse Prevention Program Fellowship Home




Financial Capability Initiative Financial Pathways of the Piedmont




Prosperity Center Goodwill Industries


Financial Pathways of the Piedmont


Forsyth Integrated Health Network Insight Human Services



Bethesda Center

Community Care Center

Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services

Oxford House


Legal Advocacy in Family Violence Legal Aid of North Carolina


Children’s’ Law Center of Central North Carolina


Truancy Mediation Mediation Services


WS/FC Schools – Social Workers Department


Health Information & Referral Crisis Intervention Training Mental Health Association




Boys & Girls Club Salvation Army


Insight Human Services


Food & Shelter Salvation Army


Insight Human Services


Food Distribution Second Harvest Food Bank




Triad Community Kitchen Second Harvest Food Bank




Group Homes Springwell Network (fka Groups Homes of Forsyth)




Project Graduation Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools


3 High Schools

3 Middle Schools

3-5 Elementary Schools


Workforce Development Winston-Salem Urban League


Forsyth Tech


Education Achievers YMCA


Crosby Scholars


Literacy Works Program YMCA


Forsyth Tech

Piedmont Triad Workforce Development

Forsyth County Libraries

Goodwill Industries

Knollwood Baptist Church

Bolton, Brunson, Wiley Schools


Summer Learning Academies YMCA




Best Choice Academic After School & Summer Camp Programs YWCA


Big Brothers Big Sisters

Crosby Scholars

Easton Elementary

Hall-Woodward Elementary


Gateway to Success Integrated Medical Model Preventing Chronic Disease YWCA


Novant Health

Wake Forest Baptist Health


Second Chance Graduation YWCA




Supportive Services YWCA




Student Health and Resource Center Alexander Youth Network

(formerly Youth Opportunities)




Body & Soul Nutritious Eating and Active Living Cancer Services




Stay the Course Catholic Charities




Healthcare Services for Place Matters Neighborhood Residents Community Care Center




Healthy Eating Initiative Crisis Control


Forsyth County Cooperative Extension

Grace Presbyterian Church*


Pathways of Caring-Outreach for Strengthening Communities Experiment in Self-Reliance


Salvation Army


New Communion: Mobile Food Pantry First Christian Church




Girl Scout Outreach Program Girl Scouts




JRAMS (Jackets & Rams Achieving Maximum Success) Grace Presbyterian Church


Winston-Salem State University


Castle Heights Initiative Guiding Institute for Developmental Education (GIDE)


Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem Urban League

Family Services

Smart Start of Forsyth County


Imprint Cares, Community Matters Imprints Cares


Children’s Home Society of NC

Smart Start of Forsyth County


Insight Skills Development Insight Human Services



Imprints Cares

Salvation Army


Building Blocks for the Future in Our Neighborhood Liberty East Redevelopment*


Experiment in Self-Reliance

Habitat for Humanity


The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club and CiVIC Community Center Salvation Army


Mental Health Association



WS/FC Schools Be(e) Legendary Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools




Rams Employment and Community Health Equity (REACHE) Winston-Salem State University: School of Health Science*


Habitat for Humanity


Neighborhood Empowerment Through Technology (NETT) Winston-Salem Urban League



Forsyth County Library

Winston-Salem State University


CiVIC Child Care Solutions Work Family Resource Center


Through Unity Reformation is N-evitable (TURN)


East Winston STRIDE (Serving Together by Reducing the Impact of Diabetes through Empowerment) YMCA


Novant Health


East Winston Student Enrichment YMCA




Best Choice Academic After School & Summer Camp Programs

(Place Matters Focus)





Other Funded Initiatives and Donor Agency Designations
Hospice & Palliative Care Center      


Total Community-Wide Program Investments      


Total Place Matters Program Investments      


Total United Way Program Investments: FY2017/18

(including Hospice. Does Not Include  Additional Agency Designations and Other Funding Sources)


Volunteers Feeding Bellies and Brains to Help Middle Schoolers Thrive

Middle school kids go through profound physical, emotional and social changes, and it can be a rough time for them, their parents and caregivers, and teachers, too. Research shows that strengthening the middle grades experience is critical for improving high school graduation rates.  Read more