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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.


Community Campaign hits 40% by Thanksgiving

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Eric Kaelin, General Manager of WGHN FM and a United Way board member, braved the brisk weather Tuesday morning to place the 40% sticker on the campaign thermometer sign in downtown Grand Haven.

Greater Ottawa County United Way campaign officials are thankful for a generous community this Thanksgiving, as workplace campaigns and individual donations received so far have pushed the community campaign past the 40 percent mark. As of Tuesday, more than $760,000 in gifts and pledges had been tallied toward a goal of $1.9 million.

Campaign Chair Tim Parker, President of Harbor Industries, Inc., said that United Way staff and campaign volunteers have detected an increased energy and enthusiasm this year.

“We’ve noticed more vitality among our campaign partners. Many companies kicked off their campaigns earlier this year than last year, and most have held special kickoff events to boost their campaign success. So far, we are encouraged by the results we’re seeing,” Parker said.

United Way President Patrick Moran said that many of the workplace campaigns already completed have increased over last year, an encouraging trend. 

“The traditional ‘top five’ campaigns in Ottawa County are all wrapped up and all show generous increases in employee giving,” said Moran. Those campaigns are Haworth, Inc. (up 18 percent); Shape Corp., (up 13 percent); JSJ Corporation and its associated companies Dake, GHSP and izzyplus (up 8 percent); Consumers Energy (up 6 percent); and Fifth Third Bank (up 12 percent).  In addition, Meijer employees in Ottawa County increased their giving by 6 percent and Macatawa Bank employees increased their pledges by 49 percent.

Not to be outdone in generosity, local educators and municipal employees have responded generously to the community campaign, as well. In Holland, Board of Public Works employees more than doubled their pledges, and West Ottawa Public Schools Employees increased their giving by 56 percent. Hope College faculty and staff pledged 34% more than last year, and Zeeland Public Schools employees increased their pledges by 32 percent. In the Tri-Cities, both Grand Haven Area Public Schools and Spring Lake Public Schools increased their employee donations to the community through United Way's campaign.

“This isn’t just good news for the campaign; it also signals a stronger employment picture in Ottawa County, and that’s good news for our community all around,” said Moran, who noted that employment numbers are up in many of the campaign companies.

“Despite the good news for many, those who are not employed continue to struggle,” Moran added. As an example, he reported that United Way partner agencies have been busy providing increased numbers of Thanksgiving food baskets and other support to needy Ottawa County families this week.

“We continue to be very, very gratified by the community’s generosity.  West Michigan has proven itself year after year as a giving community that cares deeply about those in need,” Moran said.

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.  

For the eighth year in a row, new and increased leadership level gifts ($500 or more from one household) from Tri-Cities residents will be matched by an anonymous local donor up to a total of $30,000. This leadership challenge grant has been successfully met every year, and campaign officials are hoping it will be met again.

People with questions may call Patrick Moran, President, at 616-396-7811 in Holland or 842-7130 in Grand Haven.



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.

On the Internet:                                                                                          


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



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