United Way of Southwest Michigan honors community’s resiliency with annual awards

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — United Way has crafted another unique experience to acknowledge the generosity of donors and the impact made in the community in 2020.

“At the start of the pandemic last year, we used the motto “We were built for this” as a rallying cry —and our community proved it true. Southwest Michigan faced the worst and rose to the challenge—finding strength, giving each other hope, and creating change despite it all,” said Anna Murphy, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “The work is far from over, but there’s no telling what we can do next if we continue to work together.”

Prior to the pandemic, UWSM’s annual Celebration was a live event that included hundreds of guests from the community who gathered to recognize with awards the many organizations and individuals who helped make the previous year a success.

Last year, United Way showed its appreciation to award winners in creative contactless fashion with beautifully designed, hand-delivered “Celebration” packages — and that alternative continues this year.

Award winners are encouraged to photograph or video themselves opening the package and upload them to social media, tagging UWSM and using the hashtag #uwsmcelebration so everyone in the community can see.

In lieu of receiving physical awards this year, winners decided to direct sponsorship funds to the Southwest Michigan Emergency Response Fund.

The 2020 Celebration can be viewed at uwsm.org/celebration.


Excellence in Innovation

  • Benton Harbor Area Schools
  • Benton Harbor Charter School
  • Berrien Regional Education Service Agency
  • Berrien Springs Public Schools
  • Brandywine Community Schools
  • Bridgman Public Schools
  • Buchanan Community Schools
  • Coloma Community Schools
  • Countryside Academy
  • Eau Claire Public Schools
  • Lakeshore Public Schools
  • Mildred C. Wells Academy
  • New Buffalo Area Schools
  • Niles Community Schools
  • River School, Sodus Township #5
  • River Valley School District
  • Riverside School, Hagar Township #6
  • St. Joseph Public Schools
  • Watervliet Public Schools
  • Cassopolis Public Schools
  • Dowagiac Union Schools
  • Edwardsburg Public Schools
  • Lewis Cass Intermediate School District
  • Marcellus Community Schools
  • Bangor Public Schools
  • Bloomingdale Public Schools
  • Covert Public Schools
  • Decatur Public Schools
  • Gobles Public Schools
  • Hartford Public Schools
  • Lawrence Public Schools
  • Lawton Community Schools
  • Mattawan Consolidated Schools
  • Paw Paw Public Schools
  • South Haven Public Schools
  • Van Buren Intermediate School District
  • Lake Michigan College
  • Southwestern Michigan College


Excellence in Impact

  • Berrien County Health Department
  • Van Buren/Cass District Health Department


Excellence in Collaboration

  • Berrien Community Foundation


Impact Cabinet Choice

  • Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency
  • Meals on Wheels of Southwest Michigan
  • Feeding America West Michigan



Best Campaign Growth

  • Area Agency on Aging, Region IV
  • Dowagiac Union Schools
  • PACE of Southwest Michigan
  • Vail Rubber Works Inc.
  • Michigan Gas Utilities
  • Pepsi Beverages Company
  • Ausco Products, Inc.


Best Community Leadership

  • Berrien County Cancer Services, Inc.
  • Cass District Library
  • Materials Resources
  • Niles Precision Company, Inc.
  • Tyler Automotive
  • Competitive Edge
  • Martin’s Super Market – Stevensville
  • Gast Manufacturing, Inc.
  • 1ST Source Bank


Best Year-Round Partnership

  • Horizon Bank
  • K & M Machine Fabricating Inc.
  • Wolverine Pipe Line Co.
  • Kinexus Group
  • Mid-West Family Southwest Michigan
  • Lake Michigan College



Large Corporate Champion of the Year

  • Honor Credit Union
  • American Electric Power Company, Inc.


Medium Corporate Champion of the Year

  • Cassopolis Public Schools
  • United Parcel Service


Small Corporate Champion of the Year

  • Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company


Employee Campaign Chair – Large Business

  • Cathy Cowles – Western Diversified Plastics
  • Jill Tooman – Western Diversified Plastics
  • Sue Prudden – Western Diversified Plastics
  • Shirley Smith-Torp, Palisades Power Plant
  • Michael Caskey-Mol-Son, LLC


Employee Campaign Chair – Medium Business

  • Courtney Driscoll – Gateway Services


Employee Campaign Chair – Small Business

  • David Ravitch – Ravitron


David J. Weichhand Award

  • Whirlpool Corporation


Inspired Giving Award

  • Bronson Healthcare


Live United Award

  • Meijer
  • Michigan Association of United Ways


Whirlpool Community Commitment Award

  • United Federal Credit Union


Riverfront Optimist Club of Niles prepares to revive annual events


Dowagiac Conservation Club to sponsor zoo animal ‘meet and greets’

Cass County

Two arrested following Ontwa Township drug bust

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,756 cases, 19,664 deaths


Cassopolis receives NEP grants


EPS to host student vaccination clinic

Cass County

PHOTO STORY: Cass District Library hosts Barnyard to Go event


Books for Bikes program continues at Eagle Lake Elementary


Former Cassopolis village trustee dies at age 85


Lavender U-pick farm opens for season in Niles

Berrien County

United Federal Credit Union helps the Alex Mandarino Foundation raise $35,000 for childhood cancer research


Dowagiac Middle School honor roll

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,582 cases, 19,662 deaths

Cass County

Niles woman injured in Mason Township crash

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer announces plan to expand tuition-free college to 22,000 additional Michiganders


Dowagiac Union High School honor roll


Niles Township residents raise concerns about theft, dangerous intersection


PHOTO STORY: Work on downtown Niles mural begins

Cass County

Cass County Courts restart jury trials, reopen building


Dowagiac Middle School Esports team finishes successful inaugural season

Cass County

PHOTO STORY: Cass District Library branches host tie-dye workshops


Dowagiac Police Log: June 16-20


Niles police searching for information in June 13 shooting

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,491 cases, 19,647 deaths