SWVA and the New River Valley on Full Display at the 2024 Impact Awards

Abingdon, VA (May 15, 2024) - A record crowd gathered in the Grand Hall inside the Higher Education Center in Abingdon to celebrate the best of Southwest Virginia and the New River Valley on Tuesday night. United Way of Southwest Virginia (UWSWVA) hosts this event annually to honor outstanding individuals and organizations' service to communities.

The highlight of the annual event is the Woman of Distinction award. This award honors notable leaders in the community who also enable others to give of themselves. Previous winners include Dr. Rachel Fowlkes, Dr. Karen Shelton, and Virginia Pillion. This year’s award recognized a budding philanthropist and community activist, Emma Hurley. A current senior student at John S. Battle High School, Hurley is the first-ever John S. Battle High School graduate to participate in the prestigious Roan Scholars Leadership Program and she started JSB Gives Back, a care closet for students in need at school. The closet includes donated personal hygiene products, clothing, and other items that students need to show up at school ready to learn. In her acceptance speech, Hurley also thanked Principal Jimmy King for helping students recognize that teens can make a big difference.

The outgoing Board Chair for UWSWVA, Brendan McSheehy, received the Recognition of Service Award. Denise McGeorge was honored with the Unsung Hero Award for her work in the Buchanan County floods in both Hurley and Whitewood.

Other honorees included:

  • Elite Partners: Ballad Health, Food City, Universal Fibers, Utility Trailer: Atkins and Utility Trailer: Glade Spring

  • Top Fundraiser for Celebrity Bagging: Lawrence Brothers, Inc.

  • Top Giver: Food City

  • Emerging Partner of the Year: First Community Bank

  • Workplace Campaign of the Year: Carter Bank and Trust

  • Agency Partner of the Year: New River Community Action

“United Way of Southwest Virginia has been a pillar in the community for over 60 years, and that history and impact is only possible because of the incredible support of everyone across our region,” said Travis Staton, Interim President & CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia. “It’s also important to recognize the emerging leaders within our midst, like Emma Hurley. They are the future board members, volunteers, and community leaders that will keep our region healthy and strong.”