EDITORIALS

2016: Ted Swaldo - Co-Chair 2016-17 United Way of Greater Stark County Fundraising Campaign

I would like to share a story with you. As a local business owner, I run a workplace-giving campaign for United Way of Greater Stark County. While reviewing this year’s employee contributions, I discovered that a staff member named Charlie had made a rather generous donation.

I was familiar with Charlie’s job and pay scale, and I was concerned that perhaps he had accidentally put the decimal point in the wrong place on his pledge form. I met with him to discuss this and he assured me that the amount he gave was indeed correct. Charlie then told me about his recent life experience. He explained that - a few years ago – he was married with a son, owned a nice home and was working at a steady job. “Life was good,” he told me. However, he started missing work when his young son was diagnosed with a serious illness. Soon after that, everything fell apart. Charlie lost his job and his son died. His marriage couldn’t survive the tragedy, and his wife moved out. He was able to find a part-time job, but couldn’t afford to keep his home and ended up living in his car. He had lost everything that was dear to him, and it seemed hopeless…until he got help from United Way. He was given financial assistance for things like food and clothing, and even received counseling. Today – he is back on his feet and working full-time. He told me that giving back to United Way is his way to “pay it forward.”

I knew nothing about my employee’s incredible journey until he shared it with me. It made me think about how fortunate I am, and how quickly my life could be turned around by unanticipated events. It also made me consider the people with whom I interact every day - people who have their own story about overcoming obstacles, people who have struggled or are still struggling with financial challenges, unexpected circumstances, health issues. These are the people in our own community who are helped by your donation to United Way of Greater Stark County.

My family and I have been long-time leadership donors to United Way of Greater Stark County, because we knew our gift was making a difference in the lives of people right here in our community. We understand and value the important work being done by this local organization, so we were honored when asked to co-chair the 2016-17 fundraising campaign. We soon realized that what we knew about our United Way was simply the tip of the iceberg, and that this year’s fundraising campaign would have a different emphasis than in year’s past.

Instead of focusing on money, we’re focusing on greater outcomes. There is no thermometer gauging how much money has been raised this year. Instead, United Way of Greater Stark County is focusing on how contributions are leveraged to have the greatest impact on people right here in our community. Instead of focusing on a specific dollar amount, we will be focused on the number of men, women and children who are helped by United Way. Obviously we cannot make these things happen without money, but we are concentrating on how we are affecting lives and getting measurable results.

Our annual campaign launched on September 9th and will run through December 9th. With only a few weeks left, we want to remind everyone that their contribution – big or small – is what fuels the work we do every day in Greater Stark County. The money raised during the campaign will go toward United Way's BOLD GOALS — Education, Income, and Health — United Way's essential building blocks for quality of life. Our real objectives are to make sure kids are prepared to learn when they enter school, they have the support needed to stay in school and graduate, families are financially secure, they have a safe, affordable place to stay, they receive good job training, and we have a healthy community where they can live and thrive.

Right here at home, many businesses and individuals are facing financial challenges right now. Because of this, some of our reliable contributors are not able to make the donations as they had in the past. As we wrap up this year’s campaign, it’s clear that we’re going to come up short. That’s why I’m making this urgent request for your support of United Way and the important work being done throughout Greater Stark County. I believe in United Way’s mission and I know that the organization assists those in need, efficiently and effectively.

You’ll be seeing more stories like Charlie’s in the next few weeks as we wrap-up the annual campaign. I encourage you read these stories and think about how your life would be changed if you encountered similar challenges, then consider how your donation can help someone in a tough situation. You can visit the UWGSC webpage at uwstark.org or call the office at 330-491-0445 to make a donation. Your financial support during this campaign means more Stark County residents will have what they need to lift themselves up all year long.
 


2016: William Cook - Chair, United Way of Greater Stark County Board of Directors

I am proud to re-introduce to you an organization that has been involved in our community well over 75 years. Its people and mission have evolved to be community leaders in addressing and removing obstacles in order to help local men, women and children achieve their full potential - regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, economic position or location. We utilize the various talents of volunteers and staff to develop, operate and fund programs that make a difference in people’s daily lives. This vital organization is your United Way!

As a member of the United Way Board of Directors, I assure you that every activity and resource is used in the most effective, efficient way to maximize the benefit to our community. Did you know that for a $1 investment with United Way, $1.61 is generated in services and funds returned to our fellow residents? This is achieved through the work of fabulous volunteers that give generously of their time and talent to ensure that every dollar invested returns value to those served.

I ask that you spend a few moments to read how YOUR United Way is bringing positive change to our community, and how - with your help - we can move closer to achieving our BOLD GOALS in Education, Income and Health.

You may have seen or heard United Way’s new spokeskid Priah telling you, “Together – We Make Awesome Things Happen!” That’s because United Way knows that a thriving community takes a lot of work, and we can’t do this work without the contributions of many caring people. We improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities…bringing together donors, volunteers, businesses, government entities and other organizations – to work as a team.

In 2014, United Way of Greater Stark County’s Board of Directors approved a strategic plan based upon a new approach known as Community Impact. The process was driven by an evaluation of how the organizational structure and allocation practices have carried out our overall mission and impacted the community. During this process of analysis and renewed focus, the United Way Community Impact volunteers worked on identifying community needs, and how United Way can more effectively address those needs.

The impact councils spent nearly 18 months working with a consultant and issue experts to examine areas of need in 3 categories: EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH. Statistics and data were gathered, other United Way models were studied and current community resources were inventoried and discussed. This process identified specific opportunities for improvement in our communities and a renewed commitment to strategic investments with long-term results. We call these our BOLD GOALS for Bold Change.

Let’s start with the BOLD GOAL of EDUCATION. United Way envisions a community that supports and enables all students to reach age-appropriate academic and developmental milestones that lead to graduation and careers. We’re laying the foundation for young people to succeed in life. Through United Way’s funded programs and community collaborations, children and youth will be given the best possible start to develop to their fullest potential.

To support the BOLD GOALS in INCOME, United Way partners with numerous organizations and agencies to help families become self-sufficient and strong.  Financial self-sufficiency is vital to a successful family life, and United Way funded programs work to remove barriers and build skills necessary to attain and maintain employment. This creates a cycle for financial success, and improves the stability of the entire community. United Way’s Income initiative funding is a sustainable investment in prosperity for everyone in Stark County.

The BOLD GOAL in HEALTH supports programs that provide families and individuals with food, shelter and clothing during crisis situations. United Way collaborates with numerous community organizations that help expand access to care for all ages. By promoting healthy behaviors and increasing the availability of preventative care, we create a solid foundation for strong, stable families.
United Way of Greater Stark County finds solutions that create positive change, so our community grows stronger. We couldn’t do this important work without our dedicated team of volunteers. I am honored to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors - 28 people of various backgrounds, all committed to a better future for Greater Stark County. These knowledgeable community leaders give generously of their time, establishing policies and allocating resources to assure that the organization is properly managed. As an active and responsible governing body, the Board of Directors ensures effective governance over the policies and financial resources of the organization.

We also rely upon hundreds of committed individuals who reflect the diversity of the people we serve – contributing their expertise to United Way committees, and participating in numerous year-round events that take place throughout the community.

We can never express enough gratitude for the generous residents of Stark County who donate financially to our annual campaign. In fact, your involvement is our most powerful resource! Because you contribute to our efforts, you are a part of our team. By giving to United Way of Greater Stark County, you are assured that your contribution will be leveraged responsibly to make the most impact toward improving the quality of life in our community, with measurable GOALS. With your help, we can create a better future for Greater Stark County.

United Way of Greater Stark County believes that helping one person is like helping everyone. We envision a community that supports and empowers all men, women and children to prosper and succeed. Our staff and volunteers strive toward BOLD GOALS in EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH – to build a better future for everyone in our community. This takes a lot of work, and we can’t accomplish this without you on our team. This spirit of teamwork and collaboration helps the people who need it the most, and bring about positive change. Together – we CAN make awesome things happen in Stark County!

William Cook is Senior Vice President, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and chair of the United Way of Greater Stark County Board of Directors. For more information about United Way’s BOLD GOALS and strategic vision, visit uwstark.org.