United Way in Search of Community Investment Volunteers
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.
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
To volunteer click this link: http://www.ottawaunitedway.org/advocate/community-investment/outcomes-resources
2011 Program Application & Attachments Available Now
Click Below for 2011 Program Application & Attachments
United Way Surpasses 60% Mark in Annual Campaign
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 www.ottawaunitedway.org 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 http://www.ottawaunitedway.org/advocate/community-investment/outcomes-resources, or call Liz DeLaLuz, Director of Community Impact (616) 396-7811.
Community Campaign hits 40% by Thanksgiving
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 www.ottawaunitedway.org, 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.
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