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Cliff Williams / The Outlook Lake Martin Area United Way executive director Sharon Fuller speaks at the Lake Martin Area United Way Agency Appreciation Dinner at the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch Thursday.

Every year the Lake Martin Area United Way thanks the agencies it serves.

This year United Way executive director Sharon Fuller decided to take the small appreciation dinner on the road to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, one of the agencies the United Way serves.

“I talked to Michael Smith the director of the Alabama Sheriff’s Boys and Girls Ranches, he said, ‘I just want y’all to love on the girls.’” Fuller said. “I figured we could do that.”

Fuller and the staff at Lake Martin Area United Way got to work. But Fuller asked the girls to help too.

“The girls picked the menu — hamburgers, hotdogs and banana pudding,” Fuller said. “Somebody asked how that went together. I said the girls put it together.”

Blackberry Breeze was there too with a little concert to which everyone danced.

Girls Ranch director Candice Gulley loved having the agency appreciation dinner at the ranch.

“It is a great opportunity for us to all get together,” Gulley said. “Over the summer we really haven’t been together. COVID-19 is still affecting and keeping us separated. This outdoor event lets us connect and have a little fun together. It is a good relationship builder.”

The ranch doesn’t just work with the United Way.

“A lot of the agencies that are partners with the United Way serve our ranch,” Gulley said. “We work with Rape Counselors of East Alabama, Tri-County Children’s Advocacy Center and the East Alabama Food Bank. They all assist us.”

Fuller said the agencies don’t get enough credit for all the work they do and this just a small way to show them a little love and appreciation.

“The United Way board always thanks the agencies because they do all the hard work,” Fuller said. “Sometimes they don’t get thanked. They do a lot of our work. This is a way to say thank you for the support they give our community and United Way family.”

Gulley said it was an opportunity for the residents of the Girls Ranch to see just a few of those who care and love the residents.

“It is good for the girls to see their community is a lot bigger than this ranch,” Gulley said.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

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