4.4.19 - 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.
“The complex problems that are negatively affecting our community - the ones that most people say can’t be solved - we go looking for them. 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. We want to empower people so they can be stable, healthy, happy, and sustainable after the program has ended. This is long-term work and it is not easy. But it is worth it.”
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.
“I was working hard to pay my way through school and I was moments away from completing the Paramedic program at LCCC,” said Theresa Tobin, who shared her experiences of receiving assistance from the UCAN Community Collaborative. “I had worked so very hard to get through the program, but with the time commitment I was only able to work part time delivering pizzas.
“I started to fall behind on my bills, and as I fell behind, there were added expenses for utility shutoffs and evictions, and I felt like I was all on my own trying to conquer what seemed like a losing battle. Like I was drowning and would have to give up.
“I was able to receive assistance for rent and with food, and I was invited back to take part in the Christmas program to ensure that my children had the holiday that they deserved for being such good boys.
“I cannot tell you how much I’ve cried writing this, tears of thankfulness and gratitude for the help that gave me the boost I needed.
“And because of this help, I know my brightest days are ahead. I graduated the EMT program and am now pursuing my RN degree. I know there is still work to do but I also know that I’m not alone.”
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 $2,940,019.
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 the Ridge Tool Company, which increased their campaign by over 20 percent, topping $158,000 with employee giving and their annual corporate gift. Ridge Tool also supported United Way’s Center for Community Transformation in downtown Lorain with a $40,000 capital gift, earning naming rights to the center’s community engagement space.
“We’re honored and humbled to receive this award. The success of our campaign is because of the tremendous people we have at Ridge Tool,” said Kevin Rhodes, vice president of human resources at the Ridge Tool Company. “I turn this around and thank everybody in the community for the great work that you’re all doing and I encourage everybody to continue supporting United Way.”
The Community Partnership Award acknowledges a collaboration whose United Way activities have resulted in a positive impact on the quality of life in Greater Lorain County. Honored with the award was the Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition, which includes AARP Tax-Aide, Chemical Bank, City of Lorain, Elyria Public Library System, the Legal Aid Society, Lorain Public Library System, Ohio Means Jobs, PNC Bank, and United Way of Greater Lorain County. As sponsors, site hosts, volunteers, and legal support, each member plays a vital role in harnessing the power of community volunteers to prepare taxes for two thousand low-to- moderate income families each year, bringing over $2 million back into Lorain County in refunds.
The Impact Award recognizes not only dollar contributions, but also employee support and participation specific to United Way’s impact areas and was awarded to PolyOne Corporation. In addition to systematically running a best-practice campaign, PolyOne routinely supplies leadership to United Way’s board of directors and campaign cabinet, all while providing sponsorships and volunteer muscle to countless days of caring.
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, Target, RW Beckett Corporation, Lorain County Auditor’s Office, and Natural Stone Institute.
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, Lubrizol Advanced Materials, UPS, and Vandemark Jewelers.
More information on United Way of Greater Lorain County can be found at uwloraincounty.org or by calling 440-277-6530.