4.5.18 Over 200 loyal supporters and partners of United Way of Greater Lorain County gathered Thursday morning to celebrate a year of progress towards achieving United Way’s goals for the community in health, education, and financial stability.
The gathering was United Way of Greater Lorain County’s Celebration of Community Impact at Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center and included a report from United Way of Greater Lorain County executive director Bill Harper.
“We go looking for the problems that most people say can’t be solved, and we find every dollar we can to address them,” said Harper. “But we are more than the fundraisers. We aspire to improve the lives of individuals beyond the duration of the programs in which they are enrolled.
“It’s not good enough to simply report on how many people were served. We want to empower people so they can be stable, healthy, happy, and sustainable long after the program has ended.”
Harper also thanked those in attendance for their support and encouraged others to join United Way in their work.
“We are making progress towards transforming our community, and that progress would not be possible without your continued support. For that we are eternally grateful,” said Harper. “But the job is not yet done. We still have work to do and we invite everybody to join the fight for low-income working families in our community.”
Tim Alcorn of AM 930 WEOL radio served as the master of ceremonies for the celebration. Throughout the event, several speakers shared personal stories on how the work of United Way has changed their lives.
“My only options for employment were low-paying jobs. I remember coming home tired and bruised but I refused to quit because I knew I had a family to take care of, and I still had a vision of more for my family and myself,” said Sharonda Hall. “And then one day I heard about WE3 and how they were helping single moms. By the third class I noticed that they truly cared and were determined to make my dreams a reality.
“I can remember being in class crying as it hit me, that after this class my life would be different. And guess what, it is. After the class, I got a job with Columbia Gas and here I stand before you as a home owner, something I never thought would be possible.”
The celebration also included remarks from PolyOne Corporation executive vice president and chief financial officer Brad Richardson on PolyOne receiving the Live United Award and on his support of United Way’s mission and collaborative approach.
“It’s very humbling standing up here after listening to these stories. I’m very pleased to be here on behalf of PolyOne Corporation,” said Richardson. “We have phenomenal employees who care about our customers and drive performance, but that’s only half of our culture. The other half is in being able to give back to the communities in which we operate to truly make a difference. The thanks today really should be to all of the collaboratives of the United Way, who take our contributions, ideas, and talent and put it to work to make a difference in people’s lives.”
During the event, Harper revealed how much was raised by the community to support United Way’s work in achieving community impact. The total included the annual fundraising campaign and funds that were leveraged through United Way’s 11 Community Collaboratives, which were able to bring additional resources into Lorain County because of United Way’s innovative collaborative approach. This year’s total raised was $2,919,689.
The program also highlighted the great achievements of the organizations across the county for their participation in the United Way of Greater Lorain County annual campaign.
The Live United Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a local company and its employees by United Way. It recognizes exemplary corporate leadership, dedication, and community involvement that betters lives throughout Greater Lorain County.
The recipient was PolyOne Corporation, which surpassed the $1M mark on its local campaign for the fifth consecutive year and raised over $725,000 at its annual golf outing. PolyOne also supports United Way with employees on the board of directors and campaign cabinet and is a long-time partner in the Week of Caring.
The Community Partnership Award acknowledges organizations whose United Way activities have resulted in a positive impact on the quality of life in Greater Lorain County. Honored with the award was Cleveland Clinic, which increased their Lorain County campaign total by 20 percent and surpassed the $50,000 mark. The Cleveland Clinic also supplies volunteers in a variety of capacities to United Way and is a full partner in the Common VIEW and North Ridgeville Heart and Sole collaboratives.
The Impact Award recognizes not only dollar contributions, but also employee support and participation specific to United Way’s impact areas. Ridge Tool Company is a consistent corporate leader in the local United Way campaign, this year surpassing $130,000 raised. Ridge Tool supports United Way’s board of directors and campaign cabinet and has partnered with United Way to promote their 2-1-1 First Call for Help and Free Tax Prep services to employees.
The Pillar Award acknowledges the organizations with the largest percentage increase in employee participation, by size of the company. The five recipients were Cleveland Clinic, Kendal at Oberlin, Lorain County Public Health, UPS, and Fifth Third Bank.
The Pinnacle Award recognizes the companies with a high degree of support for the United Way's mission and acknowledges the spirit and dedication exemplified in their fundraising activities. The five recipients were PolyOne Corporation, Lorain County Community College, COSTCO Wholesale, FirstEnergy, and Mike Bass Ford.