4.6.17 - A record number of 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.
“We, together with our Community Collaborative partners, aspire to improve the lives of individuals beyond the duration of the programs in which they are enrolled, supporting systemic change in our community that confronts the root causes of social problems, resulting in sustainable improvements in the condition of our neighborhoods and communities,” said United Way of Greater Lorain County executive director Bill Harper.
Harper also announced plans for United Way’s centennial celebration throughout the remainder of 2017, including moving into United Way’s new Center for Community Transformation building at 642 Broadway Ave in Lorain this August.
United Way traces its history in Lorain County back 100 years to the founding of the Elyria War Chest by Edgar "Daddy" Allen in 1917. Fifty years later - in 1967 - the Elyria War Chest combined with six other charities to form United Community Services of Lorain County, now known as United Way of Greater Lorain County.
“Despite our 100 year legacy in the county, United Way has never owned a property. To cap off our centennial celebration, we plan to open the Center for Community Transformation at 642 Broadway Avenue in Lorain this August, contributing to the rebirth of this historic downtown and enabling us to better serve the community and our collaborative partners,” said Harper.
Tim Alcorn of AM 930 WEOL radio served as the master of ceremonies for the celebration. Throughout the event, several representatives from United Way’s community and corporate partners spoke on the progress being made across the county.
United Way’s community collaboratives are groups of cross-sector organizations and individuals working together to focus efforts on advancing the critical areas health, education, and financial stability within Greater Lorain County.
Thrive Southern Lorain County is a community collaborative focused on improving the health of residents of southern Lorain County. The collaborative’s 18 partners are working together to increase access to affordable opportunities for residents to live healthier through improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and informed decision making.
“Our work shows how United Way collaboratives can leverage so much more than just funds. The time and talent dedicated to this work is invaluable,” said Sarah Ross, the senior membership director at the Vermilion Family YMCA and the facilitator of the Thrive collaborative. “When you support Thrive, you’re not only supporting our collaborative, but you’re supporting all of the collaborative agencies and the entire southern Lorain County community.”
The celebration also included remarks from Invacare president, chairman and CEO Matt Monaghan on his support of United Way’s mission and collaborative approach.
“It is in our spirit to be aligned with what United Way does. I’m grateful to be here, in Elyria and in Lorain County, with an organization that is so well wired to make a difference,” said Monaghan. “I’m amazed that despite being in the most connected time in history, we’re often the least connected that we can possibly be, and we drive right past the need every day. I want to thank United Way for making such a huge difference and keeping us all connected.”
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 the 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 $3,015,587.
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 Invacare Corporation, which saw its best campaign in five years in terms of dollars raised, and added 104 new donors while increasing participation percentage by 111 percent. Invacare 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 Horizon Education Centers. In addition to campaign support, Horizon is a key partner in the Ready Set Go to Kindergarten and the YES Zone community collaboratives. Horizon has also partnered with the Lorain County Volunteer Connection for multiple projects and will be the host site of this year’s Spring Day of Caring in May.
The Impact Award recognizes not only dollar contributions, but also employee support and participation specific to United Way’s impact areas. PolyOne Corporation became the first ever back-to-back winner of the Impact Award. PolyOne has been a leader in the local United Way campaign by raising more than $1 million in each of the past four years. This year, PolyOne hosted an on-site Lorain County Volunteer Connection orientation for employees, they adopted a park in Lorain for ongoing volunteer projects, and employees have been key volunteers this tax season as part of the Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition.
The Pillar Award acknowledges the organizations with the largest percentage increase in employee participation, by size of the company. The five recipients were Invacare Corporation, Macy’s Systems and Technology, Horizon Education Centers, Lorain County General Health District and the Lorain County Treasurer’s Department.
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, Macy’s Systems and Technology, Northwest Bank, UPS and Vandemark Jewelers.