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Click here: LIVE UNITED News Winter 2011.pdf to download a PDF version of our quarterly newsletter.


United Way in Search of Community Investment Volunteers

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In photo at left, Financial Stability Panel Members visit a transitional housing program at The People Center in Spring Lake during  the 2010 Community Investment Process.

Greater Ottawa County United Way is seeking interested community members, who live and/or work in Ottawa County, to have a voice in the funding of human service programs throughout Ottawa County. Community investment volunteers help to decide where the funds raised during the annual campaign are invested, or allocated.  They review programs organized according to the four impact areas of Education, Financial Stability, Health, and Emergency Assistance/Basic Human Needs. Volunteers need to simply have an interest in helping to better their community and may choose an impact area and panel that fit their interests and time schedule.

The “Education” impact area includes programs that help people of all ages to achieve their potential; “Financial Stability” includes programs that help people to achieve financial stability; “Health” includes programs that help people to live life in a healthy way; and “Emergency Assistance and Basic Human Needs” includes programs that provide resources to people in need of immediate assistance. Last year 64 citizens from around Ottawa County volunteered during the community investment process. They decided where $1.1 million in funds were allocated across 61 programs of 41 nonprofit agencies that serve people in Ottawa County.

“The community investment process is what helps make United Way unique,” says Liz DeLaLuz, Director of Community Impact for Greater Ottawa County United Way. “You have community members making decisions that affect the community where they live and work. It’s a great way to learn about all the services that make up Ottawa County.”  

David Mann, Store Manager of Home Depot in Grand Haven, is the District Captain for “Team Depot,” Home Depot’s employee volunteerism program, and last year he served as a Community Investment Panel member for Emergency Assistance/Basic Human Needs programs. He said, “I haven’t stopped talking about my experience since.  I’ve recruited several other store managers and department managers throughout our district to volunteer in their local United Ways.  I’ve never seen a better way to get inside a community and learn what people need and how we as a community of individuals and businesses can best respond.  I can’t wait to get to work on my panel this year.”

The Community Investment Process begins with a brief volunteer training session in late January. Volunteers are assigned to panels, or teams. Each panel reviews four to eight different program applications. Each volunteer receives a 3-ring binder containing the applications and agency information, along with study materials about United Way’s community impact model. Panel members will have a pre-tour meeting to review all program applications; two weeks later the panels visit the agencies to learn all about the programs and the impact they have on the community. After the tours are complete, the panels meet to discuss the applications and make their recommendations. One member of the panel, called the panel leader, finalizes the panel’s recommendations. Then all panel leaders meet to finalize the recommendations for presentation to United Way’s Board of Directors.

The volunteer time commitment averages about 20 hours over a two-month period.

This year, community investment volunteer training is scheduled for Monday, January 24 from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at the Ottawa County Fillmore Complex Main Conference Room, 12220 Fillmore St., West Olive (Snacks provided) or Tuesday, January 25 from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. at the same location (lunch provided). Volunteers need attend only one of the sessions.

United Way officials ask those who are interested in volunteering for the 2011 community investment process to contact United Way by January 14. For more information or to volunteer, call Liz DeLaLuz at 616-396-7811 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Or visit and click  “2011 Community Investment Volunteers Information HERE” on the right hand side of the home page.  It will take you to a link with more information and an application.

Suggested Cut line:  Photo 2 (CWIT)

Financial Stability Panel Members visit a transitional housing program at Center for Women in Transition in Holland during  the 2010 Community Investment Process.


2011 Community Investment Volunteers Information HERE

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To volunteer click this link:


2011 Program Application & Attachments Available Now

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Click Below for 2011 Program Application & Attachments



United Way Surpasses 60% Mark in Annual Campaign

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Tim Parker, President of Harbor Industries, Inc. and Chair of United Way’s 2010-11 community campaign in Ottawa County, checks the 60 percent box of the community thermometer sign in downtown Grand Haven.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Ottawa County, thanks to the community's generous response to Greater Ottawa County United Way's community campaign. More than $1.3 million in pledges and donations have been tallied as of December 21, putting the campaign at 68 percent of its $1.9-million goal.

Campaign officials note that these results are slightly ahead of the same time last year, which has led to feelings they describe as “cautious optimism.”

“The company campaigns that are showing increases outnumber by two to one the campaigns that have decreased, and that’s a very encouraging sign,” said campaign chair Tim Parker, President of Harbor Industries Inc. “Many of our campaign partners are showing increases in employment, and campaign participation rates are up over last year as well as dollars pledged,” he added.

Patrick Moran, United Way President, predicts that the home stretch of the campaign, which concludes on March 22, 2010 with a Celebration event at Evergreen Commons in Holland, will be “the hardest part of the campaign.”

“The majority of our 240 workplace campaigns have launched, and more than half of those are completed, with only a few more to be launched in January,” he said. “Our experience is that the last third of the climb is the most arduous, and it’s a time when we especially rely on the generosity of companies and individuals outside of the workplaces where campaigns have run.”

Residents who are not able to give through their workplace can give online at or mail a donation to United Way at PO Box 1349, Holland, MI 49422. And, for the second year, Michigan state income tax filers can “check off” a portion of their state tax refund as a donation to United Way, and it will go to the United Way office associated with their home zip code.  In 2010, the first year of the tax checkoff, Greater Ottawa County United Way received more than $5,000 from Michigan tax filers.

In the Tri-Cities, new givers of at least $500 can double their gift as a result of a leadership challenge by an anonymous donor. For the eighth year, this $30,000 challenge grant matches every new or increased leadership gift from Tri-Cities residents. Last year, it resulted in new leadership gifts from Tri-Cities residents of more than $59,000.

“A gift to United Way is a good investment in our community,” said Moran. “Last year, for every dollar given to Greater Ottawa County United Way, the community received a benefit of $1.79 in direct support to programs, leveraged grants, and volunteerism. Our community impact model is achieving its intended results in the areas of health, education, and financial stability—what we call the building blocks of a better life—and our citizens receive the emergency assistance and basic services they need because our community supports United Way’s campaign,” he explained.

In January, Greater Ottawa County United Way’s annual Community Investment Process will begin. Volunteers from throughout Ottawa County will come together to evaluate all programs requesting United Way support, and new volunteers are welcome. All Community Investment volunteers must attend a training session, with two dates and times available: Monday, January 24 from 5:00-6:30 p.m. or Tuesday, January 25 from 12:-1:30 p.m. Both sessions take place in the Main Conference Room of the Ottawa County Administration Complex, 12220 Fillmore St. in West Olive.  For more information about becoming a Community Investment Volunteer, and application materials, visit, or call Liz DeLaLuz, Director of Community Impact (616) 396-7811.


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