United Way kicks off 2017 campaign
United Way of Portage County kicked off its 2017 campaign with a goal of reaching more than $2.8 million Friday, Aug. 11, at P.J. Jacobs Junior High School.
The funds will go toward assisting a Portage County resident every 15 minutes with more than 30 programs provided through the United Way, including Learn for Life. Learn for Life is a program in partnership with Portage County school districts, local businesses and community members that provides children with tutors on a regular basis to increase reading achievement in the early grades. About 15 schools across the county participate, including public and private institutions.
The Blenker family, owners and operators of Blenker Companies in Amherst, are chairing this year’s campaign.
“As drive chairs, they are leading by example in showing that United Way is building a better community for each and every one of us,” said Jon Gadbois, United Way of Portage County Board president.
The family revealed a book shelf shaped like a house or school that they created and donated, which will be given to a local school following a literacy competition this fall.
“As the 2017 Drive Chairs, we want the entire community to know that when you support United Way, you change lives and you make your community stronger,” said Jason Blenker in representing the family.
Campaign pacesetters are instrumental in that goal, and Delta Dental, Old National Bank and the United Way Endowment were identified as leaders.
Delta Dental, which has been a pacesetter company for many years, led the way, raising $309,851 in employee and corporate gifts, with 97.3 percent employee participation and presented the Blenker family with a check for that amount.
Old National Bank had 100-percent participation and raised $2,548.
For the first time, yearly United Way Endowment earnings, which have traditionally been kept separate from the annual campaign, will go back into ongoing United Way funding. Through legacy gifts, these funds amounted to $14,296.
With these campaigns and money from other donations, United Way currently is at 12.7 percent of the overall 2017 community goal of $2.875 million.
The kickoff also included a behind-the-scenes look at Project Fresh Start, United Way’s school supply drive serving 1,100 area youth each year. Project Fresh Start was held at P.J. Jacobs Saturday, Aug. 12, and each child participating received a free book.
Nicole Tank, a prevention supervisor and family support worker with Family Outreach and Support Services – one of 31 United Way funded programs – unveiled the 2017 campaign video, which features how her program and other United Way programs have helped a local family.
“United Way’s support allows my program and many other programs that I engage with to work collaboratively in support of our clients,” said Tank. “When people see what their donations do and the lives they change, I have no doubt that it will touch their hearts. I know it did for me.”
The video is available online at youtube.com/watch?v=1pVSuUVAWVo
The United Way of Portage County 2017 Campaign will take place throughout Portage County at approximately 200 worksites, via direct mail, and through other individual and organizational giving.
Donors of $52 or more to the 2017 United Way campaign will receive a Give & Get United Coupon Book and eligible donors of $52 or more will also be automatically entered into the Travel United Sweepstakes for a chance to win a 2018 Ford F-150 XL Super Cab 4×4 valued at $38,000 donated by Scaffidi Motors. Other prizes also will be awarded.
For more information about the campaign, call 715-341-6740, email [email protected], or visit www.unitedwaypoco.org.