GHHS Students Create Box City

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[Pictured at left, Wendi English, founder of Wild Child Ministries and author of Wild Child, Waiting Mom, will speak to GHHS InterAct students Friday night at their Box City in Central Park.]


Shannon Morton, Greater Ottawa County United Way’s Director of Volunteerism, is helping Grand Haven High School’s InterAct Club members to understand homelessness firsthand through the annual “Box City” overnight in Grand Haven’s Central Park on Friday November 19.

InterAct students and their advisor, GHHS teacher John Mauro, will construct shelters of cardboard and sleep in them overnight in Grand Haven’s Central Park, and other activities are planned to help students understand the challenges faced by the homeless.

Morton arranged for Wendi English, founder of Wild Child Ministries and a former runaway, to speak to the students at 8:30 p.m. English founded Wild Child Ministries, headquartered in Grand Haven, to bring the hope of Christ to families struggling with wayward, rebellious children. English is the co-author of the book, Wild Child, Waiting Mom, which tells the story of her years as a prodigal child from two perspectives: English writes as the prodigal and her mother and co-author Karilee Hayden shares her journey as the waiting mom. Through her book and speaking engagements, English seeks to bring hope to the weary in the midst of their heartache.

Box City is an annual event that caps National Homelessness Awareness Week, according to Mauro. “This night is not designed for the enjoyment of the students.  It is supposed to be a long, cold difficult night. Students may not have cell phones, MP3 players, or more than two blankets. They will participate in a ‘game of life’ in which they may lose their box shelter, shoes, or be sent to jail. They may also receive goodies, get time to warm up, or receive an extra blanket,” said Mauro.

InterAct is a service club open to all students at GHHS. It is sponsored by Rotary International.  It meets twice monthly and performs at least one service project in the local community each month and offers at least one service trip each year.

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FamilyWize Prescription Card Available

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For Immediate Release: November 9, 2010

For more information contact: Michelle Thyfault,

Assoc. Director for Development for Greater Ottawa County United Way;

                This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; 616-396-7811

Greater Ottawa County United Way has a prescription for immediate savings! United Way and FamilyWize announce savings averaging 35% in everyday prescription costs for local residents

The United Way and FamilyWize are proud to announce that their partnership has saved the people living and working in Ottawa County more than $19,230 on everyday prescription costs since its inception in December of 2008.

The free FamilyWize drug discount card is distributed by Greater Ottawa County United Way. “No one should be forced to choose between paying for food, rent or medicine because of the high cost of prescriptions. That’s why we’ve partnered with FamilyWize to distribute free prescription discount cards to everyone in Ottawa County”, said Kelly Henry of Greater Ottawa County United Way.  

Distributed through United Ways, the FamilyWize card lowers the cost of medicine by an average of 30% or more for people without insurance or who take medications not covered by their plan. It’s easy.  It’s just like a coupon you can keep using every time you need to fill a prescription.  All you have to do is present a FamilyWize card at a local pharmacy to get the savings.

“The FamilyWize card provides immediate savings on prescription medicines with no paperwork or forms to fill out,” said Dan Barnes, Co-chair of The FamilyWize Community Service Partnership.

These cards can be used by everyone in the community, not just people without insurance. They can even be used by people with health benefits, including Medicaid or Medicare.

The FamilyWize card is easy to use:

·         It’s free

·         For immediate and unlimited use

·         Anyone can use the FamilyWize card

·         Accepted at 95% of pharmacies nationwide

·         No enrollment or personal information needed


Nearly 1,000 United Ways in all 50 states have helped to save more than $100 million on prescriptions in their communities.

FamilyWize cards can be found locally at United Way and many of its partner agencies.  People with internet access can go to to print a card, look up drug prices and obtain a list of participating pharmacies.

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In the spring of 2005, Dan and Susan Barnes heard of families in the Lehigh Valley area who were having difficulty buying the medicine they needed because of the high cost of prescription drugs. They responded by distributing a free prescription discount drug card through family and health centers in the schools in Bethlehem. The family centers then involved the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley who asked 25 of its partner agencies to help distribute the cards to individuals and families in need throughout the  area. Almost immediately, Dan and Susan received requests from other United Ways to provide this free assistance in other communities. As a result, they established the FamilyWize Community Service Partnership in the fall of 2005 inviting a group of local and national companies to join together to provide this free assistance through United Ways to people in need across the county. Currently more than 900 participating United Way agencies and America’s Promise Alliance Partners in all 50 states coordinate the local distribution of the free FamilyWize prescription drug discount cards. In March of 2010, the total savings from the use of FamilyWize prescription drug discount cards passed $100 million and a new goal was established to reach $1 billion in savings by the year 2020. For more information, visit



United Way Checks 20% Mark in Campaign

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Five weeks after the 2010-11 Community Campaign officially kicked off, Greater Ottawa County United Way has tallied more than 20 percent of its $1.9 million goal, thanks to results reported last week from workplace campaigns held in area companies.

The 20 percent sticker is supported by Ottawa County’s top two campaigns--Haworth, Inc. of Holland and Shape Corp. of Grand Haven.  Shape Corp. announced at quarterly meetings last week that its associates had pledged nearly $145,000, an 11% increase over last year’s campaign and more than 130 percent of its campaign goal of $110,000. 

Haworth, Inc. completed its campaign by meeting its goal of $130,000 in employee pledges. Both companies traditionally also make a generous corporate matching gift to the campaign, but those figures were not available at press time.

Tim Parker, President of Harbor Industries and Chair of the 2010-11 United Way community campaign, said, “The fact that our top two campaign partners have both increased their participation and amount raised is a real testament to the caring nature of people in our communities.  It sets the stage for a successful campaign, leading to even more impact on community issues.”

Campaigns at Fifth Third Bank, Huntington Bank, SAF Holland, ITW Drawform, and Zeeland Hospital have all reported increases in their campaigns over last year. New campaigns and volunteer projects at The Worden Company in Holland and Engine Power Components in Grand Haven also kicked off this month. 

“We are excited, not only that our long term supporters are having successful campaigns, but that new companies are responding to the LIVE UNITED call to action and providing their staff with opportunities to Give, Advocate and Volunteer to advance the common good in our community,” said Greater Ottawa County United Way President Patrick Moran.

Brett Burza, United Way’s Board Chair, knows that it takes a lot of support to have a successful campaign.  “A successful workplace campaign starts with committed leadership, who empower their employee campaign coordinators, who in turn inspire their colleagues to participate in various ways. Grand Haven Area Public Schools is a great example of that, where they fully participate in Live United’s Give, Advocate, Volunteer model.  Campaign coordinator Mary Jane Evink organizes a Live United committee that secures meaningful incentives, activities and presentations at each of their buildings. GHAPS also participates in United Way’s Day of Caring and supports several of United Way’s advocacy efforts,” said Burza.

More than 230 companies have launched or will launch workplace campaigns county-wide, said United Way President Patrick Moran, who pointed out that Tri-Cities donors can double the dollars they donate through a challenge match offered by an anonymous donor. The match involves those who give a gift of $500 or more, according to Moran.

“For the eighth year in a row, a community member has offered to match all new and increased leadership gifts from Tri-Cities area givers, up to a total of $30,000.  Last year, that challenge resulted in new gifts to the campaign of nearly $60,000,” said Moran.

Residents who are not able to participate in the campaign through their employment may give online at, or mail a donation to Greater Ottawa County United Way, PO Box 1349, Holland, MI  49422.  Anyone with questions may call Patrick Moran, President, at 616-396-7811 in Holland or (616) 842-7130 in Grand Haven.



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These students from Lakeshore Middle School's Community CHILL (Completing Homework in a Learning Lab) program gave back to their community during 2009's Rake a Difference Event -- and had fun doing it!

Greater Ottawa County United Way invites all citizens of Ottawa County to “Rake a Difference” in their neighborhoods on Saturday, November 6, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. This annual volunteer initiative is sponsored and coordinated by United Way to assist the elderly or people with disabilities in Ottawa County who need a neighborly hand. This year, United Way is partnering with several other groups to maximize the impact of this community effort.  In the Tri-Cities, United Way is joining forces with Unity Serve, a group of 15 area churches committed to advancing the common good in their neighborhoods. In the rest of the county, United Way is partnering with students in United Way’s Student Service Learning program to leverage the enthusiasm and energy of our young volunteers.  Individuals, families and other groups are welcome to be a part of Rake a Difference.

If you or someone you know needs help with raking and other yard work—or if you wish to rake as an individual or a team--contact Shannon Morton, Director of Volunteerism at United Way, 396-7811 in Holland or 842-7130 in Grand Haven no later than October 25.

Or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Helpers and those needing help will be matched and will receive their assignments by November 1.  For more information, visit For more information about Unity Serve, please contact Tana Anderson at 616.842.9022 x 304, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Live United News Fall 2010

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Click here to read the latest news from Greater Ottawa County United Way 


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