2016 Annual Celebration Highlights

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Annual Celebration Highlights

To read the full press release, click here.
To see pictures of the event, click here.

At our annual celebration Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the United Way of the Lakeshore recognized nearly 8,000 donors and volunteers who gave of their time, talent, and treasure throughout the 2015 campaign that closed on March 31. The campaign raised $2.4 million to support the more than 50 health and human service agencies that deliver services to families and individuals in the lakeshore counties of Muskegon, Newaygo, and Oceana through more than 80 programs.  Thank you to all those who donated to help us raise these needed funds! We also thank the 1,000 volunteers spanning all ages across our three counties who provided multiple services throughout the year—including youth and community Day of Caring projects.

We appreciate the dedication of our 150 campaign volunteers, led by 2015 Campaign Chair Erik Jepsen and our Campaign Cabinet, who volunteer to be division leaders for various employee sectors in United Way workplace campaigns. Erik and most of the Campaign Cabinet will be returning to lead the 2016 Campaign. Our Loaned Executives, led by chair Jessica Chandler, were also a key part of the campaign. Many of our Loaned Executives will be returning for 2016, but we are looking for a few more! Contact Nancy Robbins if you are interested in helping.

United Way of the Lakeshore President & CEO Christine Robere reviewed the prior year and shared the determination of board members, volunteers, donors, and staff to address the organization’s new bold goal to assist families that are ALICE—Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed—to see 10,000 more working ALICE families meet their basic needs by 2025. Robere said, “Our staff and volunteers hosted more than 30 community conversations and trainings with donors, and agency and community leaders; and, we garnered hundreds of responses from an online survey administered by the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University. By the end of the year, we had heard from close to 400 ALICE families about their greatest barriers to success.  Obstacles that clearly emerged were access to quality and affordable childcare services, difficulties with transportation, and meeting basic needs related to income stability, health, and education for job readiness. These interactions have allowed our volunteers and donors to focus the lens on our work and show us where our grants and volunteer efforts are more likely to have the greatest impact. We will continue to have conversations with ALICE over the coming years for the valuable input needed to guide our work.”

Community Builder Awards were presented to:  ADAC, Barber Steel, Consumer’s Energy, Jackson-Merkey, and Muskegon Community College. To build a community it takes a solid foundation, good people, and a strong investment. The Community Builder Award goes to organizations that work throughout our communities by participating in various philanthropic efforts with the belief that they can change lives by working with United Way.

The Spirit of the Lakeshore Award was presented to CWC Textron and UAW 539. The Spirit of the Lakeshore Award is the highest honor given to the organization that embodies  the “spirit” of the United Way of the Lakeshore and its mission.  It is awarded to an organization that sets examples for others by helping United Way of the Lakeshore continue its strong growth and human service effort. Erik Jepsen, Director of Operations, received the award on behalf of the company, which allowed him to serve as the 2015 Campaign Chairman.  He was joined by Tyshon Massey, President of UAW Local 539, and fellow United Way Board member and other members of their volunteer team, who helped raise funds for the community impact work and presented Jepsen with his first donation of the 2016 Campaign, a jar of change saved by his young daughter Camille.

Mary Anne Gorman, Executive Director of Harbor Hospice, received the Community Impact Award for Staff. This award is presented to a staff person of a human service agency who embodies the true spirit of impact through collaboration, collective action, and selfless commitment for the common good that results in measurable improvements in the community.

Community Impact Award recipients from the three counties were:
Muskegon – Phyllis Wahlberg (Every Woman’s Place)
Newaygo – Jim Rynberg (Newaygo County Community Committee)
Oceana – Dawn Riley (Oceana County Community Committee).
This is the highest honor an individual can receive from United Way of the Lakeshore in recognition of one’s efforts to improve results for the people of their community.  This award recognizes the unique accomplishments of the volunteer honored and positions them as an example for others to follow.

Martha Giacobassi and Mike & Kay Olthoff each were awarded the Legacy of Caring Award. To the same high degree compared with other strong organizations, United Way has a sound history built on the foundation of caring community leaders.  United Way’s strength is its partnership with these individuals.

During the business portion of the evening, United Way membership (those who have donated to UW) elected seven people to positions on the Board of Directors:  
Dwight Vines to a 2nd 3-year term
To a 1st 3-year term:
Rich Houtteman (Consumers Energy)
Erin Kuhn (West MI Shoreline Regional Development Commission)
Walter J. Christophersen (IBEW 275), Erik Jepsen (CWC Textron)
Gary Nelund (State Farm Insurance)
Lisa Sabourin (Employers Association of West Michigan)

Retiring Board Members were recognized for their service:
Jeff Alexander, Jane Johnson, Mark Mangione, Peg West, and Priscilla Wilcox.

The Harley-Davidson Sweepstakes continued to inspire in 2015 by offering entries into the sweepstakes to those who donated $50 or more; increasing a gift by $50 over a 2014 Campaign gift earned an additional entry. There were 221 new donors who gave at least $50. Furthermore, 724 donors increased their gifts by at least $50, resulting in $163,112 in new and increased giving.

The Harley-Davidson sweepstakes sponsors include: ADAC, Cannon Muskegon, Great Lakes Dock and Materials, Hot Rod Harley Davidson, Jackson Merkey, Kautex-Textron CWC Division, Knoll, Manpower, Nowak Machined Products, and Webb Chemical.

Jepsen announced that the 2015 Harley-Davidson winner is Jim Bos. Second and third place winners are Steve Sanders and Becky McElfish, who each received gift certificates from Hot Rod Harley Davidson.