Greater Ottawa County United Way wrapped up its annual community campaign at its LIVE UNITED Celebration event on Thursday evening at Baker Lofts Event Center in Holland. Top-performing campaign companies, nonprofit community partners and volunteers were honored with recognition and awards throughout the evening. During the event, Campaign Chair P.J. Thompson announced that 92% of the multi-year $2.5 million campaign goal was reached, with the total amount given and pledged during the 2016-2017 campaign coming in at $2,278,640. United Way President Patrick Moran said, “We have set an aggressive, multi-year goal. We finished strong, increasing our donations by 2% over last year. We would like to thank our generous community for their support of our impactful work in Ottawa County.”
Moran continued, “More than 150 companies ran workplace campaigns in Ottawa County this year, with nearly 7,000 employees giving to United Way. We also received nearly 230 donations from individuals throughout Ottawa County who were not connected to a workplace campaign. We will continue to invest in the building blocks of a better life for the residents of Ottawa County: education, financial stability, health and meeting people’s basic needs.”
Campaign Chairs P.J. and Kristen Thompson discussed the campaign results as well. Kristen said, “We are encouraged by the increase and so proud to have been the chairs this year. P.J. and I want to thank everyone who contributed to the campaign, volunteered in our community or advocated on behalf of an individual or organization. P.J. continued, “I am especially proud of the many local businesses who have stepped forward to support the LIVE UNITED movement. These corporate partners give, advocate and volunteer all year round, helping us to advance the common good in our community.
The top two campaigns were run by Shape Corp. and Haworth, Inc. Together they raised nearly half a million dollars for the campaign. Shape and Haworth continue to challenge each other for the number one campaign, and this challenge leads to a greater benefit for everyone in Ottawa County.
Greater Ottawa County United Way Board President Sarah Lilly said, “The tireless dedication of our staff and volunteers allows us to support 43 local nonprofit agencies as well as internally run programs such as the Lakeshore Housing Alliance and Students LIVE UNITED. Every $1 that is raised has a impact of $3.70 in community benefit.”
Throughout the campaign, United Way promoted a prize drawing, which offered the chance to win an all-inclusive four-night trip for two to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Donors who gave $52 for the first time, or donors who increased their giving by $52 were included in the drawing. United Way staff concluded that the drawing was a success, with more than 2,300 donors who gave $52 for the first time or increased their giving by $52 or more. The winner of the drawing, an employee of Huntington Bank, was announced during the LIVE UNITED Celebration. Campaign sponsors provided donations for the prize trip.
This campaign featured, for the first time, the Ottawa County Leadership Challenge, a pool of $80,000 from 14 donors, which challenged us to increase leadership giving by matching new gifts of $500 or more from anyone living or working in Ottawa County. It also matched any increase from previous leadership givers. We exceeded the challenge by more than $107,000, with $187,269 in match-eligible gifts. The 2017 Lighthouse Leadership Circle consists of 655 community members who donated a total of $865,837. Of those, 74 were first-time leadership givers and 292 increased their leadership donation. The average leadership gift was $1,322.
Volunteers in our community were also recognized Thursday evening. United Way’s Director of Volunteerism Shannon LaHaie announced that a total of 8,778 volunteers gave 130,755 hours of their time for a total impact of more than $3 million in the community over the past year. Diane Ybarra, of Global Concepts Enterprises was awarded 2017 Volunteer of the Year.
Good Samaritan Ministries received the 2017 Nonprofit Pinnacle of Partnership Award. The recipient of this award exemplifies a commitment to improve the quality of life for Ottawa County residents through leadership in service and education as well as a year round partnership with Greater Ottawa County United Way. Liz DeLaLuz, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way, honored eight community investment volunteers with 3-year and 10-year service awards. These members of the community serve on community investment panels that thoroughly review programs that receive United Way funding to ensure that all programs funded by United Way are efficient and effective.
United Way also applauded individuals and teams for their creativity and effort in running workplace campaigns. The Macatawa Bank campaign committee received the Joe Martella Above and Beyond Award. This award is given to a company campaign coordinator or committee who consistently goes above and beyond in managing the workplace campaign. United Way’s Out of the Box Award for the most innovative company campaign was presented to Shape Corp.
Six Ottawa County companies and organizations received United Way’s Community Builder Awards, indicating that they met five key criteria for giving, advocating and volunteering within the community and on behalf of United Way. The award recipients include: Automatic Spring Products, Davenport University, Grand Haven Custom Molding, Greater Ottawa County United Way, ITW Drawform, Macatawa Bank and PNC Bank.
Mark Wilson was presented with the G.W. Haworth Strength of the Community Award. This “lifetime achievement award” recognizes an organization, family, couple, or individual that exemplifies United Way’s leadership spirit of volunteering, philanthropy, and community decision-making.
The Lynne Sherwood Lighthouse Leadership Award recipient was Shape Corp. This award is given to a United Way campaign company that demonstrates the greatest increase in leadership giving, or to an individual, couple or family whose community leadership sets an example for others to follow. Shape Corp. had a 23% increase in leadership giving, 18 first time leadership givers, and an overall Lighthouse Leadership Circle total of $115,371, $12,505 of which was match-eligible.
The Greater Ottawa County United Way Board of Directors and staff would like to thank our generous supporters and volunteers for their investment in our community. Because of your support, we are able to continue to bring together people and organizations with the passion, expertise and resources to get things done in Ottawa County. Because of you, we continue to make an impact in the areas of education, financial stability, health and meeting people’s basic needs in our local communities. THANK YOU for your commitment to LIVE UNITED. To learn more about our work, visit www.OttawaUnitedWay.org or call 616.396.7811.