United Way Helps Ottawa County To Get Connected

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C-A-L-L 211. Department of Human Services. Greater Ottawa County United Way. Human Services Coordinating Council. MI Works. Ottawa County Health Department.

What are all these government and nonprofit agencies? What do they do?  Whom do they help? How does it all work?

Whether you’re a human services professional or a private citizen, “Getting Connected” is a workshop to help you understand the alphabet soup of agencies and community collaboratives, the work they do and the services they offer, on Thursday, October 21, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) Educational Services Building, 13565 Port Sheldon Street, (northeast corner of US31) in Holland. The cost is $25 per person and includes continental breakfast, lunch, and a CD of all materials.

Billed as “a practical and constructive introduction to Ottawa County for human services professionals, community members, agency staff, parents and new residents,” topics include current population demographics; an introduction to human service organizations and collaborative groups, and helpful tools for accessing services that citizens can use in their jobs and personal lives. Dozens of agencies will be represented at the Agency Fair from 10:45 to 12:00, and workshop attendees will have an opportunity to participate in an “interactive agency experience” where they go in search of resources to meet specific needs.

This annual event is presented by Greater Ottawa County United Way in collaboration with Pathways, MI, Department of Human Services, Community Action Agency, Good Samaritan Ministries, CALL 211, Great Start Collaborative-Ottawa, and Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.

Registration forms are available at, by calling Liz DeLaLuz Vanderby (616) 396-7811 or emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Completed forms, along with a check for the $25 per person registration fee, should be mailed by October 13 to Kelly Henry, Greater Ottawa County United Way, P.O. Box 1349, Holland, MI  49422.


Record Numbers Volunteer for Day of Caring

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Hundreds of  local citizens did not report to their usual jobs on Thursday, September 16 in Ottawa County.  Instead--like the GHSP, Anderson Consulting, and Grand Transformers employees shown here working at Lakeshore Middle School in Grand Haven--they went to work at 57 volunteer project sites all over the county as part of Greater Ottawa County United Way’s 10th annual Day of Caring. They arrived by 8:00 a.m.-- to hammer, saw, paint, clean, dig, shovel, rake and renew—in teams from more than 50 companies, schools and organizations throughout the county.  They created trails in county parks, stocked shelves in food pantries, did yard work and maintenance at homes and human service agencies, and helped to build two Habitat for Humanity houses.

When all the work was done, 725 volunteers had worked for 3,250 hours, providing nearly $65,032.50 in labor support to the community in just one day. Shannon Morton, United Way Director of Volunteerism, noted that the volunteers didn’t just wear LIVE UNITED shirts, they lived them.  “People from area companies and nonprofit agencies came out to help.  Students and teachers helped.  They helped individuals who can’t do their own home and yard maintenance, and they worked in our towns, parks, and on our school grounds to better our communities. It’s a true example of how we in Ottawa County LIVE UNITED,” she said.

At noon 400 of the volunteers gathered at Yogi Bear Camp & Resort in Grand Haven Township to enjoy an appreciation lunch, which was donated by A.D. Bos Vending Services and Sara Lee Corporation and prepared and served by associates from A.D. Bos. With that captive audience under the pavilion at Yogi Bear Resort, United Way kicked off  its 2010-11 Community Campaign, “The Building Blocks of a Better Life.” Campaign Chair Tim Parker, President of Grand Haven’s Harbor Industries, Inc., announced a campaign goal of $1.9 million.  Noting the goal is increased for the first time since 2008, he said, “Last year’s campaign goal of $1.8 million was exceeded by nearly 5 percent, and many Ottawa County companies have told us they are hiring and their outlooks are optimistic.  We, too, are optimistic that the people who are working in Ottawa County will continue to lend a hand to the neighbors who still need our help.”

Parker added that, while 225 companies throughout Ottawa County are participating in the 2010-11 Community Campaign, there are many more residents who are not connected to company campaigns. He urged anyone who wishes to learn more about United Way’s work and impact on the community—or who would like to give, advocate, or volunteer through United Way—to visit for more information and to give and volunteer online.

A number of local companies also volunteered to set the pace for this year’s campaign by running their campaigns early and acting as a barometer for what to expect this year. Those companies include Shape Corporation, Haworth, Inc., Mercantile Bank of Michigan, and Greater Ottawa County United Way staff. Based on preliminary results, donations are coming in at close to or slightly above last year’s levels, which gives United Way officials reason for optimism.

“With a record number of volunteers coming out for Day of Caring and the early pacesetter results we’re seeing, the campaign is off to a great start,” said Parker. “We look forward to the momentum continuing throughout the next few months and for the excitement of helping one another to spread throughout the county.”

United Way’s President Patrick Moran said that, while the dollars raised are important, an even greater emphasis belongs on the differences those dollars make in the lives of people.  “Education, Financial Stability, Health, and Basic Needs are the building blocks of a better life,” he said, describing United Way’s areas of focus.  “Right now 61 effective programs of 41 local nonprofit agencies are changing the lives of tens of thousands of our neighbors because our community supports United Way,” he added.

United Way’s Day of Caring lunch was made possible by donations from Yogi Bear Camp & Resort, A.D. Bos Vending Services, and Sara Lee Corporation. Day of Caring and Community Campaign expenses are underwritten by Platinum Sponsors Fifth Third Bank and The Holland Sentinel; Gold Sponsors A.D. Bos Vending Services, Harbor Industries, Inc.; Magna Mirrors of America, Inc.; and Shape Corporation; and Silver Sponsors Haworth, Inc., Lake Trust Credit Union, Michigan Commerce Bank, and Varnum Law.

United Way officials also said that their work could not be done without the generosity of corporate partners and volunteers alike. 40 volunteers are helping with the work of the campaign, including 15 volunteer account managers who, along with United Way staff, help area companies to conduct workplace campaigns. Volunteers who are helping to lead the campaign, in addition to Parker as Campaign Chair, are Larry and Jeanie Koops and Monica and Tony Verplank, Lighthouse Leadership Circle Co-Chairs; Jack Russell of Shape Corp. and Mike Metzger of JSJ Corp., Major Firms Co-Chairs for the north county; Pete Esser, Holland Sentinel and Mark Wilson, Huntington Bank, Major Firms Co-Chairs for the south county; Small Business Chairs Brett Burza, Raymond James, Randy Kortering, Haworth, Inc., and Taiyoh Afrik, Johnson Controls, Inc.; Professional Division Chair Jeffrey Beswick, Varnum Law, and co-chair Michelle Hanks, DeBoer Baumann & Co; Patrick McGinnis, Grand Haven City Manager, Government Division Chair; Keith Konarska of Grand Haven Area Public Schools and Ron Veldman of Coopersville Public Schools, Education Division Co-Chairs; Mark Tucker of Community Action House and Jody Herrelko of The Little Red House, Nonprofit Division Co-Chairs;  and Sandy Huber and Steve Groters, co-chairs for the Retiree Division.  Additionally, the “Beyond the Workplace” Division is being co-chaired by United Way Board Members Eric Kaelin of WGHN and Paul Thurman of ITW Drawform; and the telephone follow-up division is being chaired by Patricia VanderWall, VanderWall Financial Associates with help from Les Denton, West Michigan Labor Council.


Register HERE for Getting Connected October 21

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Click HERE for Registration Form


Tim Parker to lead community campaign

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Tim Parker, President of Harbor Industries, Inc. of Grand Haven, will chair Greater Ottawa County United Way’s 2010-11 Community Campaign, set to kick off September 16.

Parker will announce the Community Campaign Goal for 2010 at Yogi Bear Camp & Resort in Grand Haven Township at 1:00 p.m. on September 16, which is also the date for United Way’s Day of Caring, the largest one-day volunteer event in Ottawa County. More than 600 volunteers have already signed up to complete volunteer projects throughout the county, and all volunteers are invited to Yogi Bear Camp & Resort for a free picnic lunch, prize drawings, fun, and campaign activities from 11:30 to 1:00.  Since 2001, Day of Caring has been the traditional kickoff of United Way’s Community Campaign in Ottawa County.

This year, Parker says that Ottawa County businesses are showing signs of recovery, and that gives campaign officials reason for optimism.

“Many of our local companies that run workplace campaigns have begun hiring again, and they are dedicating themselves to participating in both the drive for donations as well as our goal to ‘raise’ 4,300 volunteers throughout Ottawa County.  And, for everyone who does not work at a company that runs a campaign, we offer the chance to sign up at to donate or volunteer with a click of a mouse,” Parker said.

He also noted that more companies have signed on as campaign sponsors this year than last, with Fifth Third Bank and The Holland Sentinel as Platinum sponsors; AD Bos Vending Services, Harbor Industries, Inc., Magna Mirrors of America and Shape Corporation as Gold Sponsors; and Haworth, Inc., Lake Trust Credit Union, Michigan Commerce Bank and Varnum Law as silver sponsors.

“Sponsor dollars help United Way to run the campaign so that more of the dollars donated can be reinvested back into our local community. This year, 61 programs of 41 local nonprofit agencies are receiving United Way community investment dollars, and their work touches the lives of more than one in four people in Ottawa County,” Parker said.

Parker leads a campaign cabinet of 44 volunteers from area companies, organizations and agencies who have been working throughout the summer to launch the campaign. They are meeting with the heads of the more than 200 major firms, small businesses, professional offices and governmental units in the county to thank them for their past support and lend any assistance they may require in setting up their 2010 workplace campaigns. Parker also noted that several companies have already launched “pacesetter” campaigns. These include Mercantile Bank in Holland, Community Shores Bank in Grand Haven, Shape Corporation in Grand Haven and Pliant Plastics in Spring Lake. Haworth, Inc., traditionally the top campaign in Ottawa County, will launch its workplace campaign with a breakfast honoring long-time and leadership givers on August 25.

Parker has a long history of service to United Way. He served Tri Cities United Way in leadership roles for many years, and then served on the board of Greater Ottawa County United Way from its inception, including as treasurer and vice chair, until his retirement in 2009 due to term limits. He and his wife Jill Parker were the Lighthouse Leadership Circle Chairs of the north county for the 2008-09 campaign and last year he served as chair of the newly formed Health Division of the campaign cabinet.  In 2004, Parker was the recipient of United Way’s lifetime achievement award for community service and philanthropy, the G.W. Haworth Strength of the Community Award … and the youngest ever to receive it.

Parker is the third generation of the Parker family to head up Harbor Industries, a designer and producer of retail displays, fixtures and digital media solutions for companies worldwide. In 2009 the United States Small Business Administration named Harbor Industries the Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Business of the Year for the entire United States.

Parker and his wife Jill are Spring Lake residents and the parents of two sons. He graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Case Western Reserve.

For more information, telephone 396-7811 in Holland, 842-7130 in Grand Haven.


MORE Day of Caring Volunteers, Projects Needed

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Hundreds of volunteers have already signed up for the county-wide Day of Caring set for Thursday September 16, and the list of projects to be completed is growing by the day, but Greater Ottawa County United Way is still accepting projects and volunteers. 

Anyone interested in helping or anyone who has a project to be completed is asked to contact Shannon Morton, United Way’s Director of Volunteerism, (616) 610-1338 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it no later than August 15.  Sign up forms and more info can also be found online at

Day of Caring is the biggest single day of volunteerism in Ottawa County, and last year’s Day of Caring saw 64 projects completed in one day by nearly 700 volunteers.  The value of that volunteerism exceeded $80,000 in labor support to the community.

Examples of projects include organizing a food pantry, brightening up a nonprofit organization’s offices with a fresh coat of paint, or building a bridge in a county park. While some projects can take most of the day, many can be completed in a half day, either morning or afternoon. In addition to company teams, individuals may also volunteer and will be assigned to teams.

Said Morton, “No project is too big or too small. Without projects, work can’t be done; and without our incredible volunteers, lives aren’t able to be changed for the better.”

Volunteers are rewarded with a free barbeque lunch, donated, cooked and served by A.D. Bos Vending Services, Inc., of Holland, at Yogi Bear Camp & Resort on US-31 just south of M45. In addition to A.D. Bos, generous donations from Sara Lee Corporation and Yogi Bear Camp and Resort help to provide this festive community event.  WGHN FM will broadcast live from Yogi Bear Resort from 11:30-1:00 on September 16.

September 16 also marks the official kick-off for Greater Ottawa County United Way’s Annual Community Campaign, which this year has been titled “Campaign 10/11: “The Building Blocks of a Better Life.”       For more information on how to give, advocate, or volunteer to advance the common good in Ottawa County, visit


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