United Way sets fundraising record, hands out awards
Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center had a celebratory feel to it Thursday night.
The United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Annual Celebration featured awards made of children’s art, videos of touching stories and high school students taking the stage to reveal the annual fundraising total of $3,859,785 — another record for the Berrien and Cass county non-profit organization.
This night, however, belonged to the work and the impact made through United Way.
In fact, the word “impact” was mentioned more than 30 times over the course of the night.
“It was a special evening that represented a very special year,” said United Way President Anna Murphy. “We are proud to have surpassed our goal, but what’s more important to us is the impact that this money will have on our communities. It was evident this evening that great impact was made in 2015, and we are grateful to all of the donors, volunteers and community members who helped make this happen.”
Murphy wasn’t exaggerating. More than 69,000 people across Berrien and Cass counties were served in 2015 through United Way, almost one-third of the population of the two counties combined.
Volunteers racked up nearly 38,000 hours of service, a value of more than $856,000 and the numbers only go on.
“2015 proved to be a year when many companies were inspired by the work of our funded partners and collective impact partnerships in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs,” said Honor Credit CEO, Scott McFarland. McFarland, along with Honor Credit Union’s Kaylee Williams, were the 2015 United Way Campaign Chairs.
United Way backed up these numbers with touching success stories told through four videos presented throughout the evening, focusing on education, income, health and basic needs.
One video featured 103-year-old Lattie C. Parker, a client at Harbor House Adult Day Services, a program of Child & Family Services of Southwestern Michigan, Inc. Parker was a special guest at the event, receiving a rousing ovation when recognized.
Last year also saw a significant increase in United Way’s school campaigns. Eighteen districts ran campaigns, contributing to a 14-percent increase from 2014, the first increase in over five years.
“The companies and individuals who partner with United Way deserve so much credit,” Murphy said. “It shows the commitment and care that they have for their community.”
For more information on United Way or for information about running a campaign, visit www.uwsm.org. People can also text “UWSM” to 51-555 to receive the 2015 Community Impact Totals, or visit www.uwsm.org/by-the-numbers.
• Campaign Chair Recognition — Honor Credit Union
• Large Business of the Year — Lake Michigan College; American Electric Power, D.C. Cook Plant
• Medium Business of the Year — 1st Source Bank; Gast Manufacturing, an Idex Corporation
• Small Business of the Year — Cass District Library; Wolverine Pipe Line Company
• ECC of the Year-Large Business — Joe Tanko, American Electric Power, D.C. Cook Plant
• ECC of the Year-Medium Business — Ivan Price, Martin’s Super Market, St. Joseph
• ECC of the Year-Small Business — Sarah Hadley, Competitive Edge
• Inspired Giving Award — Sunset Tool, Inc.
• David J. Weichhand Award — Whirlpool Corporation
• Impact Chair Recognition — Dr. Clint Gabbard, Lake Michigan College
• LIVE UNITED Award — Gast Manufacturing, an Idex Corporation
• Excellence in Impact Award — Zechariah Hoyt, Niles Community Schools; Berrien County Council for Children: Children’s Assessment Center
• Pacesetter Recognition — Competitive Edge; Edgewater Bank; Honor Credit Union; Kemner-Iott Agency of Cass County; Meijer, Benton Harbor; Meijer, Stevensville; Mid-West Family Broadcasting
• Milestone Awards: Breakthrough — AutoCam Corporation; Berrien Springs Public Schools; Lewis Cass Intermediate School District; Lincoln Charter Township; St. Joseph Public Schools; Wolverine Metal Stamping
• Milestone Awards: Trendsetter — City of Buchanan; Honor Credit Union; Kinexus; Martin’s Super Market, St. Joseph; Martin’s Super Market, Stevensville; Meijer, Stevensville; Mid-West Family Broadcasting; Teachers Credit Union; Tyler Automotive; United Federal Credit Union
• Milestone Awards — Landmark Andrews University; Center[ed] On Wellness; Coloma Township Police; Competitive Edge; Indiana Michigan Power; Kemner-Iott Agency of Cass County Lakeland Health; Meijer, Benton Harbor; Mosaic CCDA; UPS; Whirlpool Corporation
• Milestone Awards: Capstone — Berrien County Cancer Services; Berrien County Council for Children; Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass; Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor; Edgewater Bank; Horizon Bank Ravitron
Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT — Daysha Amster stands outside her restaurant, Olfactory Hue Bistro, in downtown Niles Friday morning. Amster is... read more